Sunday, June 27, 2010

My Grandmother June 27, 2010

Since I never got the chance to read this at my grandmother's funeral a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to at least be able to have the opportunity to put it out there for others. She lost 4 children - three as infants/toddlers and one as an adult so its somewhat fitting for this blog. I tried not to dwell on that too much, but after I lost Daniel I remember seeing her and she seemed like she truly understood and she didn't have to say much, as usual - she hugged me and I cried. I will love her for that always.

This is in no way meant to be an all encompassing recollection of my grandmother’s life. I’m speaking from my perspective on who she was and how her life played out. I’ll try my best to be brief while at the same time try to honor and pay respect to a woman who so rightfully deserves it.

My grandmother was the heart of our family – the matriarch. She wasn’t just my grandmother - she played the role of mother for her grandchildren and for many of the people who just happened to walk into her life. I spent the majority of my childhood living in her home and she was, at least for me, a constant presence in my life. I always knew I could depend on her to be there, to listen, and provide support – and she could do this by saying only a few words or by simply shrugging her shoulders and raising her brow. She was this way with everyone.

My grandmother loved to tell stories. I always enjoyed listening to her narrate her life back in Portugal on the farm. As she got older, the stories would change and sometimes you didn’t know whether or not to believe what she would say – but they were all still really good stories. I looked forward to reminiscing with her and to tell you the truth it is one of the things I will probably miss most.

“A mother is one to whom you hurry when you are troubled.” ~ Emily Dickinson
…. And we were all certainly troubled! No matter what the situation, my grandmother always had a place for you to stay if you needed it. There are handfuls of people here today who have at one point or another lived with my grandmother. In fact she may have single-handedly reduced the rate of homelessness in the state of CT between the years of 1985 and 1993. It didn’t matter to her why you were there or how long you were staying – to her giving someone a place to stay was the right thing to do and it made her feel good to know that you had a roof over your head and food to eat.

Although her generosity was often taken for granted, it never stopped her from unconditionally giving to others. She would give you her last dime if you needed it and if she didn’t have anything left to give she’d go ahead and write you a check anyway. She lived a simple life and didn’t need much – she had grown accustomed to giving everything she had leaving herself with very little - which I have to believe is why she was so frugal and saved everything she ever owned – to include the 27 pairs of scissors she kept stored in her underwear drawer. Believe me, it was hard getting her to let those go!

As thoughtful and as giving as my grandmother may have been, she was by no means a push-over. If she was taken advantage of it was simply because she allowed it – because things like money or material possessions were of little importance to her. Every now and then she would remind you of who was boss. She stood up for herself when she needed to – it took a lot to get her to yell, but when she did – watch out!

“The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.” ~ HonorĂ© de Balzac

…….. And forgiveness she gave. I have to believe that in order for her to be so caring and giving she would have to have the capacity to forgive those in her life who, regardless of how she treated them, treated her poorly.

Her life wasn’t easy. She suffered the loss of 4 children – 3 young children and one in his adult life – that alone is such a heavy and painful burden to walk around with each day. She gave birth to a child prematurely and had to watch him struggle to survive not only in infancy but throughout his entire life. Some of her children lived tumultuous lives – lives which I’m sure she had not pictured them to live. She worked hard just to keep the roof over her family’s head and food in their mouths. With all of this and much more than I have mentioned here today, she was still a wonderful and caring person. I don’t know what some of us would have done without her in our lives.

Growing up I never fully understood or appreciated the rough road my grandmother had to travel. It wasn’t until just recently, say the last few years of her life – when she needed more help from others than she was able to give in return - that I began to realize just how difficult her journey has been. I pray that my grandmother finds peace and solitude in her passing and that heaven is a final resting place for her where she no longer has to deal with the hardships of life. May she be reunited with those who she has loved and lost – her friends, family, husband, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Rest in peace Grandma.

Reposting Nicole's Note June 27, 2010

I really wanted to repost a note that my husband's niece (she's my niece too)left on this blog. First, because she speaks from her heart and second because I want to comment on her words.

Hey Guys, Its been awhile since I stopped by, its really hard to. Some may agree, some might not, I dont really care to be honest with you. People who havent lost a child the way that you lost Danny and I lost my boys have no idea how hard it is sometimes to relive and talk about it. You can never forget and for me, years later I havent moved on either. Its not the same as loosing a mom, dad, or even a sibling. Its worse. You never get the chance to hear them cry, or even watch them while they sleep. Opening this blog sometimes really makes me cry. The day that I lost Terrande the only Uncle that called was you, Uncle John. MILES away, going through whatever it was that you were going through, and the words "Nic, Im so proud of you, and I LOVE YOU" are imprinted in my heart. I WOULD NEVER WISH such a terrible thing on anybody! I just want you to know that even though I might not say it often, I do think about my baby cousin, and I do hope that the boys found eachother, cause as I was told my grandmom many years ago in the end you only have your family. So play nice boys, I will see you one day, until then, know that I love you and IM AWLAYS thinking and praying for all three of you!

The day Nicole lost her son John was in Delaware and I was home alone. Early that morning our clock fell off the wall. The clock is John's grandmother's and is probably about 100 years old. When it fell it just started to tick erratically and it wouldn't stop. Finally after I picked it up and sat it on the table it stopped. I think that was a sign - only a few hours later John called to tell me the news. Somehow my husband knows how to handle the most difficult situations with grace and dignity. He knew to acknowledge the loss of Nicole's son - just like he knew to make sure that he carried Daniel's tiny coffin out of the funeral parlor and into the herse because, as he said, "he's my son I should carry him". He handled everything so well and I am so proud of him for being such a strong person for our family.

Nicole - I didn't call you. I didn't say anything. I couldn't because I didn't know what to say. At that time I didn't understand. Now I do - but, as you stated, its only because I lost a child, I'm so sorry Nicole. Sometimes I still don't know what to say - I also understand why many haven't said anything to me. I try to talk about Daniel and do things to remember him so people know its okay to talk about him to me and so that no one forgets about him. Its one of the hardest things to do - live life without your child.