sweet goodbyes

I stopped by my great-grandparents’ house yesterday to visit, and had the most meaningful conversation with my great-grandma that I’ve ever had.

My grandma is approaching 95, and she’s incredibly in-touch. She understands the after-college weirdness, and asked me about this challenging time of my life, post-grad, though she didn’t use that term. As she talked, full of stories and questions and concerns about great great grand-babies and my dad’s upcoming knee surgery and my brother’s job, it hit me how much her life is centered around her family, the ones she loves. She remembers details. We talked about past Thanksgivings, about how lovely it was to have time to talk with Jane, my dad’s mother, about how I would leave the dinner table to read books under it.

Why does our culture venerate a life lived selfishly? When time steals your youthful beauty, most of your energy, the meaning you may find from your work and possessions, what will you have left? My grandma, she has something left.

My grandma said: “it is my reward for living such a long life to see my grandchildren grow, to see the way the Lord is blessing them.” She talked about how lucky she is to still have her husband, how my grandpa helps her with so many of the daily challenges she faces, always thinking of her. That is love, she said. And that is love. Not shiny-new but tested and selfless and priceless.

She held my hands and told me I will have challenges. That I will need to give them to the Lord or I’ll fall apart, that that’s the only way she’s been able to get through some really hard times.

She told me she feels a certain degree of security about me leaving. She said I know right from wrong, that I am wise and sensible. I didn’t even know my grandparents had been thinking so much about my trip. It turns out they had just put a card in the mail, telling me I had their love and blessing for my year abroad.

I am so very blessed to be fourth in a line of women who love the Lord. My great-grandma, my grandma, my mom. Where would I be without your love, your prayers, your wisdom?

My grandma is 94, and tired. She told me she wasn’t sure if she’d be here when I return. She’s said such things before, but oh how tears sprung to my eyes this time.

We don’t like to think of it, talk about it, but life does end. Everyday we get closer to that end, a simple fact. There is not enough time to waste it. My grandma is a beautiful example of not wasting it.

She held my hands and told me to go, with love. And I will.

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