Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Saying Goodbye

Since moving to Japan over three years ago, we have now lost all of our grandparents with the most recent passing of a grandmother. My husband flys out tomorrow to attend her funeral and to be with his family.

We have all been losing her slowly over these past few years due to dementia, but it marks the end of an era to let her go completely. I remember taking our new baby to her home only seven years ago where I noted lists of names written on a spiral pad. When we asked her about it she told us she was writing down the names of all the news casters as she noticed she was having trouble remembering them. Our last visit, very brief, was this summer. She recognized none of us, but she really lit up with our son saying over and over, "What a handsome boy!" It was if she was thinking of those three grandsons she had so dearly loved. There was a faint hint of memory lurking.

Her death prompted a lot of soul searching on our end. It is time to go home even if we have to endure one more move. It stinks to be so far away. It is so hard to be part of things. My husband said he wanted to make my dad pies for Thanksgiving even if all everyone did was sit around and watch TV afterwards. Meaning it is just about being there; we just want to be home.

Of course it has also conjured up many good memories of a childhood spent going to grandma's house and all of the life lessons absorbed from the presence of her soul. She was a tireless worker and volunteer. My husband said she never bossed anyone around, she just showed up and tried to help. She worked at the Post Office in Rimersburg, Pennsylvannia until her retirement, volunteered on the local library board, volunteered at the Presbyterian Church, and spent many years as a volunteer at the local Veteran's Hospital. I am sure she also did many other things for which I remain ignorant. My husband recalled that despite his parent's encouragement for her to go to Italy in her retirement years (she was 100% Italian, but the first one born in the USA) she said, "Why? There is so much to do here." You kind of have to visit Rimersburg to realize the impact of this statement as it is a very small town. Point being for her there was much to do and be done and she did it locally. I kind of get that now after having spent so many years traveling and living abroad and absorbing huge gobs of culture- I am ready to just know one little corner of the world for a long time. Being willing to help is such a gift.

May we all live a long life into our nineties and leave a trail of helpfulness behind us.