Today, many Christian churches will be celebrating All Saints Sunday. The feast day of All Saints, which celebrates all the saints, falls on November 1, and the feast day of All Souls, which celebrates the lives of those who died in the past year, falls on November 2.
My grandmother died at the end of 2011. I've been missing her even more in these past few days, in which we traditionally believe that the veil between the living and the dead grows thin, or even lifts. I've wished I had a picnic to share with her. I've wished that the picnic could contain one of her pies or the cookies I shared with many a college friend when I'd go visit her and she'd send me back to my college dorm with tins of cookies.
Above, you see her surrounded by her grandchildren in 1974; from left to right, there's my cousin Steve, my younger sister Megan, me with the theatrical hand, and in the high chair, the baby cousin Jeff.
Steve's wife, Sarah, just had their third baby last night. The generations continue.
Above you see my grandmother with me at my MA graduation in 1989.
Above, here she is with her great grandson Jackson (my nephew) back in 2008. He's "reading" one of his favorite Richard Scary books, one with lots of earthmoving equipment and big trucks.
Above, here she is in 1986, with a needlepoint picture that I stitched. It says, "There's no place like home, except Grandma's." In a way, I agreed with that. When I came to visit her, I often had a sense of coming home. She lived in same house, while my parents moved a lot. Her house seemed never-changing, while my parents often changed furniture and decorations.
She taught me a lot about familial love. She didn't always approve of my choices; some of those choices broke her heart more severely than I knew at the time. But she didn't cast me out. She made her disapproval clear, sometimes harshly clear, in a way that my parents didn't. But she continued to welcome my visits and to cook delicious meals and to send me on my way with love that expressed itself as cookies and clothes that she sewed for me.
I most treasure the stories that she told me, stories that make it clear that I come from tough stock. I come from people who have made a way when there was no clear path to be found. I come from people who made a tramp a fried egg sandwich, even when they hardly had enough food for their families. I come from people who were both thrifty and generous, people who knew how to carry on in the face of sorrow.
Most of all, she showed me how to live a genuine Christian life. One thing I can say about her: she wasn't a hypocrite. She lived what she believed. I may not have always agreed with that expression, but she stayed true to her values. And the older I get, the more I have come to cherish the most important of her core values and hope that I'm staying true to them too.
feeling the feelings…
6 months ago