I lost my beloved Gramma this summer.
It was really, really tough.
(Gramma, Mom and me at 1 Year)
I was always very close to her. My parents separated when I was two but I still spent much of my time staying with Gramma and Poppa. We travelled many parts of the province together. They took me to Disney World as a kid. I spent lots of time at their house and at their cottage.
We went on lots of picnics, spent time at the Locks my Poppa built. We played a whole lotta Yahtzee and Tri-Ominoes, picked million blueberries and solved hundreds of logic and word puzzles on the dock. Gramma taught me a lot in the way of home keeping. She was hard-working, loyal, gracious, tough yet soft ~ all at once.
She epitomized for me what it meant to be a virtuous woman.
She was really the Martha Stewart of her generation. She had a big tip out flour bin in her kitchen and from it we would bake bread, cookies, and of course, PIE. She made the most amazing pie. After I married, started a family and moved to Nova Scotia, we talked regularly by phone. She talked me through my pastry problems, acted as a major cheerleader in my homeschooling, adored my husband and children, supported me in my faith. We discussed the difficulties of parenting. We talked about novels we’d read (or should read). We talked about the scriptures. We each had a desire to serve, serve, serve. And she did that so well.
My mom once told me that some of my best parts were hers first. I think that’s the best compliment anyone has ever paid me.
I adored Gramma. Losing her was devastating for me. I knew it was coming based on my last couple of visits with her. As much as she was a fighter, I think she also knew her time here was drawing to a close. Her words to me during those last few conversations told me she was ready.
Her visitation and funeral were very difficult, but also felt like a major remedy for our family. I never felt as close to that side of my family as I did in those few days. There is something so raw, so humbling about losing a loved one. It was good for all of us to see the others so vulnerable.
When I was in Ontario for the funeral in July, I was blessed to be able to help and participate in the baby shower for my “impending Nephew,” Wyatt. It was a nice way to wrap up several days of grief.
(a cute little onesie cake I made for the baby shower)
We visited again in September (David and the kids came with me this time) and we attended the burial of Gramma’s ashes. We pondered the inclusion of our children and ultimately decided that for a first introduction to the death/ funeral/ burial customs, this would be a good start. The visitation and funeral had been completed several weeks beforehand, and this service was brief and involved only a small urn of ashes and a few close family members, which is why we thought it would be fine.
Gramma’s ashes were buried next to Dixie’s. Dixie was the aunt I never got to meet. She died of Leukemia just before her 8th birthday. I can’t imagine the grief for the family at that time, or since. To be a mother losing a child to a terrible illness AND have three other children to care for and be strong for during that time…? It’s unimaginable to me. I had not visited Dixie’s gravesite since I was a kid. Being there shook me a bit, but it was also so comforting. It was so appropriate to be standing there for the burial.
David and I were both very glad to have taken the kids. Caleb (9) took it the hardest, but we were prepared for that. After Gramma’s death, he was quiet and withdrawn for days. He deeply loved her too.
It was a great thing to have been able to spend a couple of days at her cottage before the burial.
(sunset at Menominee Lake)
It was being sold and it was remarkably special to have had a chance to be there again with my family.
We swam in the lake, fed the ducks and the chippies, went fishing (or tried to). We played the records of my childhood.
(Eden puts Gramma’s skills to work coaxing one of many chippies)
We had one more family meal there (the usual meeting place for the whole family). My stepmother, Gina gave me Gramma’s bible. She had talked to Poppa about it and they both thought it would be good for me to have it. Tears? You bet!
It felt good to be there to help pack up the kitchen. I loved uncovering all Gramma’s quirky little gadgets for helping her run her home smoothly. Twist ties and bread clips. Milk bags washed, dried and folded (because don’t you know they are the strongest bags going). I was thrilled to come home with her beautifully seasoned rolling pin, used so frequently that the red had worn right off the handles. I will be hanging it prominently above my kitchen sink, right where I can use it and enjoy everything it represents. It will make my pastry-making that much sweeter.
After the burial, and our final goodbyes to the cottage, we got to visit with Wyatt who at this point was “an outside baby.” We could breathe in his newness and innocence and perfect beauty.
Don’t you love God’s timing? New life on the heels of old.
I helped my brother, Josiah and SIL, Sarah pick paint colours for their home renovation. I obliged Sarah’s desire for a white tree on the nursery wall, and included a piece of scripture that I found fitting. This particular verse had been sitting in a bookmark folder on my computer, to paint on a baby gift at some point. This was my opportunity to put it to good use, and my Mom was all over it too.
My kids marvelled at his tiny features, his snuggliness.
We spent a lot of time this summer chatting about death, and about life. It was new territory for us as parents. We prayed a lot, considered its fine balance, and took it all in stride. Looking back, David and I are both happy with the way it all went, feeling as though we did our best to follow His lead, and handle a tough situation as best we could.
And now we move on, celebrating Wyatt’s new life and rejoicing in the knowledge that Gramma is dancing with Dixie at the feet of our Father.
Forever and ever, Amen.