It’s been a month since my Grandmom passed at age 93. Her funeral was on my 31st birthday so I’ve only seen 1/3 of her years- something that is hard to get my head around; I feel like I’ve lived a full life already-now I need to triple it.
The last time I talked with Grandmom in person, 2 weeks before her death, she apologized to me for not being so good in conversation. But, she said, she was always able to talk to God. She said a Rosary every day for all the years I remember and was very at peace, ready to go.
I remember Grandmom as pretty good at conversation. I liked hearing about the house she grew up in, a huge old house that even had a slave quarters back before her time. And hearing about the Lithuanian culture and her family coming to America. She wasn’t bad at talking to people. Maybe she was just really especially good at talking to God.
What Grandmom most fondly remembered about me was spending time with me was when I was a kid. I was kind of grumpy, and she would comfort me by singing “peas and beans and barley,” not sure if that was a real song or one of several she made up like “Where was someone when the lights went out, he was down the cellar eating sauerkraut…” Apparently I always got up at 4am and wanted to play; she’d give my parents some more hours of sleep by reading to me and playing with me as a child.
The biggest thing about Grandmom was her sharp mind. Her body failed but her mind never slipped a bit. She kept it sharpened by practicing writing lists of state capitals and other memory tasks. She was with it to the end.
I also need to mention her tolerance for pain. She had arthritis since I was born and her whole life kept positive as it ratcheted up. Truly a good witness. When my father read her this quote I sent to her via Presto 2 days before her death, she seemed to relate and asked him to read it again: “And Christ, through His own salvific suffering, is very much present in every human suffering, and can act from within that suffering by the powers of His Spirit of truth, His consoling spirit.” – JPII, 1984
Last year for my birthday she sent me a card with a photo of Denali on the front. I climbed Denali for the first time 2 weeks after her death, still grieved. The emotion definitely spurred me to press on.
A few years before she sent me a card of a lighthouse with the words “Maintain the Light.” I do believe death is a part of life, and that her light can shine on through us.