My grandmother died this week, aged 96. Her name was Edith. I remember her wavy, beautiful silver hair, and her impossibly smooth skin for a woman in her 90’s. I wanted to inherit that skin. I remember a poised woman, always dressed neatly, with hair combed, sitting primly at the table, eyes wet with tears every time we said grace before a meal. I didn’t understand when I was younger, why she cried every time we talked to God before we ate. My Grammie had a kindly laugh, kind eyes. She would cut pictures of cats out of the newspaper, the ones that are featured weekly by the humane society. I always wished she could have a cat to keep her company, but the home she lived in could not allow animals. She would always send me newspaper stories that she thought would interest me; the ones about animals. I guess she knew my heart.
I remember as a youngster at her house, having donuts that were rolled in sugar and oh, so good!! My grammie and grampie always arrived by train from the Maritimes for Christmas when we lived in Ontario. The magic of Christmas only began when they arrived. She would always bring those special treats that I knew as “chicken bones” – a pink candy, with chocolate in the middle. As a child I always wore mittens that she knitted, and then she knitted mitts for my children. My children have cosy afghans that were knitted by her, as well as my cat – she has a mini “kitty afghan” of her own.
My grandmother had a difficult life I think. I picked up tidbits of stories from my mom about her mom’s early years. They didn’t seem like the picture of love and happiness that I had experienced growing up. Edith’s mother, my great-grandmother and her father, my great-grandfather, moved out to the prairies to farm from a little sod house. After the birth of her twin sisters when my grandmother was two, their father died while working somewhere else, leaving my great-grandmother with 3 small children, a farm to run, and debt to pay off. My great-grandmother stayed to work diligently and pay off the farm debt before heading back east on the train, back to live with her parents, who were apparently not the easiest people to live with. No, things were definitely not easy for a widowed mother with three young ones. And I tend to think that would make things sometimes difficult for the little ones too, my grandmother being one of them.
My Grammie kept her feelings to herself. In her years growing up, feelings were not to be shared. I found it difficult to connect with her sometimes, for this reason. I really wanted to ask her questions but she seemed private and vague in her answers. She guarded her heart close. And that probably included all the secrets and pain from her past. She never seemed to believe she was worthy. She didn’t ask for anything, nor did she expect much.
I think that my greatest sadness about my grandmother’s final years was that she was suffering from depression. I understand that depression was a part of her life during her earlier years as well, but to be depressed in the last years of your life seems a cruelty that one does not need on top of the decline in health and physical mobility. It was obvious that the medication she was on was not effective. She had been praying to die for quite a while. So in a sense, I am happy that her prayer was finally answered this week.
I pray that she is now in the loving hands of her heavenly Father, surrounded with peace and joy. I pray that her spirit is free and soaring, in a way that she perhaps never experienced when she was alive on earth with us.
Good bye Grammie. May you rest in peace… and as you said the last time we spoke, “Bye bye…for now.”