This is a difficult update to send today. My grandmother, who has been a source of love and letters for as many years as I can remember, passed away this week.
Helen got to meet her great-grandmother almost exactly a year ago. She was about 7 weeks old when I flew out west with her to meet my dad's family - great-aunts and great-uncles and many cousins. We called it the Baby Tour 2005, since my sister, a cousin & I all apparently drank the same water that year, and all of us had babies in the span of 4 months. (For the curious, we’ve stopped drinking water.)
It was a special moment to hand Helen to this lady, and not only do I have pictures (oh boy, do I have pictures – see attached) but I will forever treasure that she was strong enough to hold each baby that week. She was so pleased with having the opportunity to enjoy the new additions to her family, but she worried that the great-grandbabies cried when she held them. Oh, but Grandma, I told her, that’s a baby’s job. They’re supposed to cry. If they didn’t, you wouldn’t ever learn how to take care of them, and you wouldn’t ever find out what makes them happy.
I’m realizing today that it’s still our job to cry when something’s wrong. What made me happy was knowing there was a special member of my family who wanted to know how I was doing and what my life was like. And I loved hearing stories from her about my family as they grew up – what my aunts & uncles were like as kids, and what she liked most about having a big family. She & I wrote to each other for so many years – I still have her letters. It was wonderful to get mail from her at college, or at summer camp, or at my first apartment. Sometimes she shared a recipe, sometimes she told me what was going on at church, sometimes she told me about a trip she’d been on with Grandpa. And often, she told me that she loved me lots. You just can’t go wrong having someone like that in your life.
So this week, I’m crying. It’s hard to lose a grandparent, and it’s hard to know how to go on without her. That’s a big piece of our family that we’ve lost and she will be greatly missed.
And you, Helen’s grandparents – you’re on notice. You have some big shoes to fill for Helen.