Goodbye Grumblings

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A lesson from Grandma: keep an elastic heart

When Grandma died in November, family and close friends came together informally to mourn. We ended up in a big circle in my cousin’s home, looking out on Grandma’s beloved Rideau River. We shared stories, memories and sorrow. People spoke of how much they learned from her, how much they loved her, how much they’d miss her. The tears and laughter reminded me that we were all in this sad place together.

I still get a little shock every now and then when I remember she’s not as close as a phone call. Every day I think of a conversation or an expression, or something I learned from her. I think to myself, “I must tell Grandma about that.” And then I stop short, surprised and bereft again.

I think of our complicated family, and her simple love and acceptance. I think of how over the years she used the power of the phone to connect us all. She would call and talk about the accomplishments and news of other family members, and collect our news to share. She seemed to know everything that was going on with everyone.

The moment my stepfather introduced me as a timid 5-year-old, she and Grandpa were immediate grandparents. From then on, they were there for Christmas pageants, recitals, concerts, confirmations, birthdays, holidays. She even came to a belly dancing recital when I was in my thirties. She was a strong, enthusiastic woman who loved her tribe wholeheartedly.

It hurts to think there won’t be any new memories that include her. And it hurts to think of how much more difficult it must be for Grandpa, her husband of 48 years.

I find some comfort knowing we all have stories, and that over the years we’ll reinforce and deepen the memories by telling and retelling them. Thinking of her is bittersweet, but the mix of love and sadness makes me feel closer to her. Being sad is part of moving into a future without her, and that’s a sharp and painful thought. My memories of her and the things she taught me will continue to influence me.

Grandma and I talked sometimes about the experience of having our children reach adulthood. Her list of people to love and worry about grew with each partner or child that joined the family. Her incredible elastic heart just kept expanding to include everyone.

Thinking of her loving acceptance, and the time and energy she gave to us all, it seems to me that a good way for me to honour her memory is by making sure my own heart continues to stretch and envelop everyone in my life with love.

Thank you for the love and lessons, Grandma. You’ll always live in my heart.



About GrumblingSusan

Word lover. Story addict. Daydreamer. Optimist. Ottawan. Treehugger. Scouter.

14 Replies

  1. Kathleen

    Susan, I’m so glad you wrote about your Grandma.

    What a wonderful lady she must have been. I see now that it was she who demonstrated to you that “love is infinitely expandable”. To me, you have always exemplified this approach. I wish I could thank your Grandma for her part in making you the wonderful woman you are, but I’m sure she already knows and is very proud of you.

    Your post about her, losing her, remembering her, and learning to live without her is remarkable. You’ve made your words sing. I think its possible that the sting when we feel bereft may just be our heart muscles exercising to stretch a little further.

    1. GrumblingSusan

      Thanks for your kind words, Kath. Interesting to think about the times when it’s easy to stretch and the times when it’s a little more effort.

      1. Kathleen

        Yes, indeed.
        I regret that “just” I included in the last sentence. Feeling bereft is not “just” any one thing. It is the longing, the loss, the memories… but from this, our hearts, I’m sure, can grow.
        And often, that is the hardest part: our hearts making room, stretching, as your grandma’s did, to encompass and love even more.

        1. GrumblingSusan

          I think we can grow and become more loving from loss if we let ourselves. It’s hard to open up when it hurts. Something to strive for.

  2. Betty Rosche

    What a lovely memorial you have given your grandmother she sounds like a wonderful lady I would have loved to have met. Your memories are precious and I hope they sustain you during this grieving period be it long or short. Love & Hugs

    1. GrumblingSusan

      Thanks, Aunt Betty! Hugs to you too.

  3. Anonymous

    Susan. Sans aucun doute, un texte d’un grand réconfort pour ta famille et toi. Je me suis sentie près de toi tout au long.
    Quel beau visuel que celui d’un coeur élastique. Je vois celui de ta grand-mère gonflé d’amour pour vous tous et aussi le tien déjà bien grand.
    Merci pour ce beau texte.

  4. Fran Crabbe

    Beautifully said Susan, wonderful memories carry you through.

    1. GrumblingSusan

      Thanks, Auntie. I agree. Memories help, don’t they? xox

  5. Erika

    That is so beautiful Suzy. I think of her daily as well & miss her dearly.

    1. GrumblingSusan

      Thanks, Erika.

  6. Bradlee

    Susan this is so beautifully written! I could feel your tremendous love in every word!

    1. GrumblingSusan

      Thanks, Bradlee. Writing helped me remember. (-:

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