My grandmother passed away on June 6th, 2020. She was 91 years young. She was a God-fearing woman and she spent her entire life serving the Lord and taking care of her family. She raised 3 boys and 3 girls, and had a hand in all of her 18 grandchildren’s upbringings. She has been present in my life from day one. She took me to school. She cooked for me. She cared for me when I was sick. Beside Bible stories, she loved watching the Honeymooners, Matlock, Murder She Wrote, Cojack and Columbo. The classics. Sometimes we would catch a late late movie and watch it together. She talked through the whole movie, trying to guess what would happen next and how it would end. Other than that, she rarely talked about her life. Every so often she would let something slip, but you had to be alert to pick up on it.
As I sit here now and think about her life, she loved children. Not only did she raise her children and her grandchildren, she was a care taker for other families while I was growing up. Every day was Sunday school with her. She sang hymns and taught bible stories. She was a patient and faithful woman. She took her time to care for those in her care. She put her whole heart into it with no complaint.
Many years ago, she shared with me that she had 7 kids. One passed away after birth. I do not recall the details that surrounded the baby’s death i.e. stillbirth, premature birth, but I remember she shared this detail of her life with me. I wonder how she coped. But as I write this and think about it, I know that she would have said to me that she found comfort and peace in God. But I know that she went through that alone. She did not have best friends. She did not have tea parties and get togethers with the girls. She focused on God and family. I know part of this was of her generation and another part of her relationship with God. As woman there is so much we hide from the world. We internalize so much pain and yet smile to the world. To know her and her love for children, I know this was a painful experience, but you would have never known it unless you asked. But she truly had a strong faith that I know she found comfort in her pain. She lived her life in so much love and joy, trying to raise all the children in her care with love, grace and understanding.
There was a time that I did not want children. I did not know how to define family. I was completely tainted by life’s hard balls. I was bruised and hurt by disappointments and abandonment. But when I met my husband, his upbringing was hard and yet he reminded me of my grandmother, someone who did not let life’s hard balls keep him down or destroy his spirit. Being around him, I saw how loving he was to his nieces and nephews, and even his coworker’s kid – he dressed up like Spiderman, climbed over the fence and and surprised him at his birthday party. I trusted him and our strong foundation helped us get through hard times together.
There is never a parental manual you get with a child or motherhood. Lucky for me, I had a grandmother who was the best care taker. Her strength and compassion about people especially children runs through my veins. As a woman she experienced so much from losing a child to losing her husband to cancer at a young age to take care of her family as the matriarch for the last 35 years. Through the highs and lows, she continued to press forward on her life journey always praying, singing and witnessing. I realize that everyone has a different coping mechanism and it is important to have one in place so we can get through the hard times so I encourage you to review your own coping mechanism and make sure it can help you get through life’s heartaches. My grandmother was a beacon of light her entire life and I will lean on her strength and teachings to help me continue my life journey.