I’ve been thinking about this post for a while. I guess on some level, it’s been knocking around the Dude’s noggin for years.
On September 5th my Grandmother passed away.
Grandma, Gram, Greatma. The Dude’s Mom’s Mom. The absolute epitome of a Grandmother.
Here we are 20 days later, and I’m just now getting around to putting pen to pad…or keystroke to keyboard. I can’t really explain my slow pace for turning this post around. I guess a life with kids is always an excuse, but that’s not really what held me up. It was more of a reluctance.
A reluctance to move on, a reluctance to face the closure, a reluctance to work through the feelings of mourning, a reluctance to let one of the last pieces of childhood fade away? Probably all of the above, but also a reluctance to the idea of my post not living up to the amazing person that Gram is (she’ll always be in my heart, so I’m sticking with is rather than was).
The Dude has been blessed with some amazing genes. If my Grandparents are any sign of what’s to come, then Mrs. Dude is stuck with me for a long time. Gram passed away a month and a half before her 92nd birthday, and her amazing husband, Pop, is still watching the Yankees and doing his daily crossword puzzle at the ripe age of 94.
92 years of life is amazing, and beyond just surviving for such a long period of time, Gram shared an infectious love with everyone she met for those 92 years. She had four children, 10 grandchildren, and eight great grandchildren. She definitely left a legacy, but that legacy is much more than the number of her offspring.
By the time someone you love reaches 92, it’s a safe bet that thoughts of their passing have crossed your mind. So, I’ve had time to ponder the importance that Gram holds for me. And it is a deep, down to my core, type of importance. But it is never fully understood until it is a reality. When that phone call comes, and that expected, yet dreaded, news is passed through the family.
I’ve had twenty days to let the reality sink in, and Gram’s importance to me grows everyday. But I’ve moved beyond my reluctance to falling short. I know my writing can never live up to the person that Martha Louise Olsen is. Words can’t capture how special she is and how she could warm people’s hearts by just being herself.
There are endless examples and stories to tell. We relived great memories when we celebrated her life at the funeral. Tea parties, surprises under our pillows, singing around the Christmas tree, tennis camp, hours spent traveling to soccer games, our favorite desserts. But to me, Gram’s lasting significance was as simple as it could be, love…and lots of it.
Gram always had a smile to share and never had a bad word for anyone. She was a fighter for what she believed in, but she would fight in the absolute most loving way. I never once heard a complaint, saw an angry face, or witnessed even the slightest mean-spirited action. Family was always the top priority, but her love stretched way beyond the family tree. Her love was all inclusive. And her husband, Pop, was the man she loved the most until the final breath of air.
I am who I am, on so many levels, because of Gram’s love. I am the husband, father, and person that I am because of the lessons that Gram passed on to me. And the brilliance of it all is the Gram never once “taught” me a lesson. She passed on everything I needed to know to live a good life and be a good person by just being who she was. Her love infected me from day one, and it will never let me go.
As I’ve pondered the passing of people I love over the years, I’ve had a song by the Flaming Lips that sticks with me. There are a lot of nice thoughts in the song, but one that stands out, and is fitting for this particular moment goes like this:
Do You Realize – that everyone you know someday will die
And instead of saying all of your goodbyes – let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It’s hard to make the good things last
We’ll all be moving to the great unknown someday, but while we’re here, the most important thing we can do is share our love and let the people who are important to us know how much we care for them. When they are gone, they’re gone. I can’t tell Gram that I love her today, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt how much she loved me and she knows how much I love her.
The Dude family is basking in this love as well. We don’t let a day pass without saying those three magic words…many times. 🙂 It’s hard to make the good things last, so enjoy them while they are here, let them know how special they are…and fight like hell to keep them close.
Before I share the great Flaming Lips tune, I want to share a Bible verse. Stop choking, yes, a Bible verse. I believe this is the first time the Dude has quoted the Bible; not sure if/when it will happen again, so enjoy. This is a verse from Gram’s funeral service, and it captures Gram’s essence and her enduring lesson…plus, it uses the word “abide”…as in The Dude abides.
1 Corinthians 13
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends…And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
Can I get an amen?!
And now on to the Flaming Lips, but before I go, I’ll sign off as I always do with Gram; “I love you Gram.”