50 Years of Love and Life

My 50th post is dedicated to my grandparents who would have celebrated 50 years of marriage today.  They have both taught me so much individually and collectively.  Their strengths and weaknesses have allowed me to be the woman I am today, without any apologies.  They shared many ups and downs, celebrated many milestones and supported all of their children and grandchildren through the good, bad, right, wrong or otherwise.  I appreciate their honesty, depth and selflessness.  Adam and I are two years in and we can only hope that we make it as long as they did and still be generous enough to give until we cannot give anymore.  I love my NeeNee and PaPa so much. May his memory live on and his life continue to be celebrated. Rest in Power. Happy Anniversary.

Cheers to 50 years.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

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No More Obligations

 

NeeNee and Papa

Married for 49 years and 10 months

When you finally feel like you have life under control, something comes and knocks you right off of your feet to remind you of how unpredictable life can be.  My heart had already sensed that a tragedy was going to strike, but I knew that I could not change it so I tried to brace for it.  You cannot brace for death, no matter how many times you tell your self that death can be easier than life because your family member does not have to suffer anymore.

Last Wednesday morning was a complete whirlwind.  I received a call from my aunt that my grandfather had suddenly become ill.  Although they had not pronounced him dead, I knew in my heart that his battle on this side was finally over.  I began to cry and try to figure out how I was going to get home on such short notice and then the second call came, informing me that my grandfather had a massive stroke and that he was not going to recover from this one.

In those last few minutes of his life, my family rushed to get everyone together to say their last goodbyes.  I sat at my desk and tried to be apart of that moment through the phone as my family gathered at his hospital bed.  I got a short glimpse at him and said goodbye and I love you through blinding tears.  Within minutes he released his last breath and his soul was set free to the other side.

Then the tears began to flow even more.  The wails of grief rang through my silent house.  I began to contact my other family to inform them of my grandfather’s sudden departure.  And the stages of grief immediately set in.   DENIAL.

This could not be real.  This could not be happening.  This could not be happening right now.  Not during my bar prep.  Not when I didn’t have a plan to get home.    Not while our family was already dealing with so much else.  Not right now.  Not today.

As the hours passed and I decided that I could wait no more, I jumped in my car, prayed and set forth on my journey home.  I arrived into a whirlwind of emotions.  Everyone was dealing with this sudden lost of our patriarch in their own way.  The next few days was a roller coaster of moments.  Some preparing for my Papa’s farewell, while others were full of tension and distress.

I remained emotionally stable for the most part but all my built up strength crumbled onto the notes of Safe in His Arms in the service that paid homage to his life.  The reality set in that my grandfather was gone forever.  I could no longer call him and ask for advice about my car, talk about current events or update him on Baby Adam’s new achievement. I never got a chance to repay him for his many sacrifices and self-less acts that made me the woman I am today.  He always believed in me and my dreams.  He never wavered in his love for any of us.  He had a heart full of unconditional love spread evenly across each child, grandchild and great-grandchild.  He did everything he wanted to do, which was to simply care for us and give us better opportunities.

As I stroll through the last four stages of grief, staggering back and forth between depression and acceptance, I am comforted by the words No More Obligations.  These words were shared a few months ago at a memorial service for a professor who had passed away.  His friend shared these words of comfort with us and they never left my soul.  So I embrace the fact that my grandfather has No More Obligations.  No more appointments, no more medications, no more leg braces and wheel chairs.  No more dependence, no more restrictions, no more stress or strains.

As I deal with this loss and the minor set back in my study schedule, I am comforted in knowing that God has placed another guardian angel in my corner to guide me along the way.  Grandparents are special people.  Grandparents are even more special when they step into the shoes of your parents.  And for that, I am grateful.

Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Papa Thinking

Never Complained. Just loved and lived.

Jogged Memories

Going through old pictures always brings back some of the fondest memories.  Going through some of my old journals always brings back the memories of some of the more difficult parts of my life.  This simple realization helped me realize how I shy away from the camera in tough moments and turn into myself.  I avoid the crowd and seek the strength needed to survive.  I take a step back and find my inner voice and wait to hear from On High because either the path is already tough or I see the struggle ahead.

The ease of having all of your pictures on your phone, tablet or computer causes us to miss out on the tangible feel of going through memories.  Of opening up photo albums and telling the good stories and maybe some of the bad.  After last nights rendezvous with a box of old pictures, I have decided to make an effort to print more pictures, place the ones I have in albums and pull them out when my friends come by.

Sometimes I lament in the pain because within those moments there are so many teachable points but there are just as many teachable moments in the joy of life.  Some of my fondest memories growing up, were on 89 Collins St.  My grandparents took pride in their 3 little granddaughters.  They loved and cared for us as they had done for their own children and other people’s children for many years before.  They gave me the foundation I needed to get through those moments when I would be going through life alone.  I was my grandmother’s mini-me, her pride and joy (I’m sure my cousins will disagree).   I left to live with my father but I always missed being with my grandparents.

When I look back and find the few pictures that I have of her, I know Irma would be so proud of me.  She was an educator and taught with such joy.  She was so sweet and funny and the reason I love candy so much.  I carry her with me in my name and in my heart.  And only the pictures I found jogged these memories.  I can write about it but seeing her smile makes me feel a sense of comfort that words cannot describe.

My grandparents taught me that love was not a romantic novel but the quiet moments together enjoying the evening news, making your side of the bed when you got up in the morning, but most importantly, holding your spouse’s hand through those tough times.  They taught me the meaning of sincerity, through sickness and in health, til death do us part.  Those words are a vow, but also a charge to remain invested in your marriage.

I put their picture on our dresser as a reminder that we are in this for life.  To help jog my memory when times are tough and I need to smile.  Next time you and your friends or family get together, pull out the albums, the pictures, and tell some of those great stories that come to mind when you see a certain image.  Share the memories and take note of happiness within those moments.  That is what we live for.  We learn in pain but we live for joy.  Be you.  Do you. Tell your story.  On your own terms.

We Made It

Giving my grandparents something to be proud of means the world to me.  Life can be filled with so much disappointment but moments as glorious as graduation are celebrated by friends, family and everyone who my grandmother comes in contact with.  When I graduated from undergrad, she told me that she was just so happy to be standing there watching me walk across the stage.  She told me how she believed in me but she couldn’t conceive how it would work out because we didn’t have the tuition every single semester.   Seeing the end result was a pure miracle to her.

As I prepare for this second moment of glory, I thank her for her prayers, encouragement and for believing and conceiving it.  This JD isn’t just for me but for all of us.  WE MADE IT.