Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Starting as early as grade school I remember kids having to leave school for a few days to attend the funerals of their grandparents. The older I got the more frequently it happened and I told my friends, "I'm sorry for your loss" but had trouble feeling empathetic since it had become such a common thing. Even though I watched Nini, (my Moms, Mother) struggle with Leukemia practically my whole life, and even when the prognosis was at its worse and I worried, I never truly accepted that she was going to die. And she didn't. At least not from the Leukemia.
No, the years went by and even when the doctors gave her 6 months or a year she still pressed forward. She never complained, she was always on her feet, working hard, meeting new people, making new friends, calling and writing her friends and family, sending out care packages, reading book after book, and finishing her crossword puzzles. She was truly taking advantage of ever precious minute she had and I think that for every minute she cherished, God gave her another minute to live.
When she passed away I didn't really confide in my friends and the amount of grief I showed in front of my family has been limited. Because of this I feel like I have yet to come to accept that my Nini is gone.
Since she passed in early April of this year (from a sudden onset of congenital heart failure) I've written my Grandfather several letters, never thinking much about addressing only him in the letters. But today I wrote only his name on the envelope and the emotion flooded over me. Henry drew some great pictures today and I took the one specifically for his Great Grandfather, wrote a letter from Henry and put it in the envelope and then the thought of how much joy Nini would have gotten upon opening the letter came to me. She would have outwardly exclaimed how brilliant Henry is! She would have looked at it and been able to see all of the possibilities for Henry. She would have written him back with a picture that she drew herself. Something wonderful.
Anyone who knew my Nini would know that her loss was not hard just for her family but for every individual that she had come across. I like to believe that every person that Nini met was influenced in some way by her, whether it was a big or small way, and I know that those that were have passed something of her along to each person they have come across. Her kindness and generosity was infectious.
Nini was special to me. She was more than my Grandmother. She was my friend. I told her about my worries and my struggles because she would promise me that despite the mistakes I made, I was still a person that was worthy of wonderful things. She never let me leave her presence without re affirming my self worth. "You are beautiful inside and out.", she would say. And there was nothing patronizing or obligatory about the way she said it. I could see in her face and feel in her gentle touch that she thought the world of me.
I am sad that my son will not know her the way that I did but I am hoping that if I can be, even just a little like who she was, that he will know her through me.