Dear Grandma, What I Want You to Know Before You Go

Dear Grandma, What I Want You to Know Before You Go

I love you grandma, and never forget it.

Sometimes words aren't enough to express what you mean to me. Sometimes I don't know how to say it right; sometimes I don't know how to say it at all. You're too extraordinary of a person to confine to descriptions of my feelings or complimentary adjectives. You deserve to be recognized in more than just words, for words will not do you justice. Memories of you will forever be etched into my heart and soul; but, for the memories I can't share with others I will do my best to honor you with words.

As I have gotten older, I have begun to see a lot of you in me. Sometimes I say something or do something and instantly smile because I know exactly who I got it from. I crave chocolates and desserts a little too often, and I'm pretty sure it has something to do with you and your sweet tooth. When I pull back my hair to put it into a ponytail I see the same little ears you have & feel instantly more beautiful seeing a part of you on me. Every time I wish I was a little taller, I remember how much I love being the petite frame I am because I am just like you. As for the 45 pairs of shoes sitting in my closet, we all know who I got that obsession from.

Let's not forget a few of my favorite things I have inherited from you. When it comes to me being extremely particular and fair, perhaps it has something to do with you counting every single M&M in our snack bags to make sure we all had an equal amount. One of my absolute favorite qualities I learned from you is your firecracker energy. They say "good things come in small packages". I can only hope I embody your determination, wit, intelligence, and optimism throughout my life as gracefully as you have.

Perhaps my favorite quality of all, that I can only hope to learn from you, is your unconditional love and loyalty to those who are most important to you. Your love radiates from within, your smile beams with joy. In the Bible, we are asked to love others with the unconditional love that God has for us, and I have always felt God's love from you. Whether it be a smile, a hug or an "I love you", I always feel and see the love you hold in your heart for me and for others. You wear your heart on your sleeve, and my, what a beautiful heart it is.

It's undeniable that we have a special connection. It's as though God said, "I pick you and you; you two will be soul mates". When we both got sick 5 years ago, as much as it felt (and feels) unfair, I honestly would not be where I am or who I am if I didn't have you fighting by my side. When we would FaceTime from our hospital beds, I was always comforted because I knew someone understood how I felt even though I never spoke of my feelings. There was an unspoken understanding between us and I never would have mentally made it through the years without you by my side, giving me a reason to fight. We have had great days and we have also had some of the worst days of our lives, but we have gotten through them together, hand in hand, side by side. If I could take all the pain and suffering you have ever gone through away from you and carry it for you, I would do it in an instant. Seeing you smile and radiate joy is the most fulfilling thing in my life, so I wake up and fight every day so I can see your smile another time.

You gave me the will to fight, day in and day out. Every time I wake up and prove that my illness is not in charge of my life, I think of you. Because the most beautiful woman in the world taught me that our circumstances do not define us, we define ourselves. When I think of all the amazing accomplishments you have made throughout your lifetime I can't help but beam with pride and hope that I am half the woman you are. You are undoubtedly the bravest, most courageous and strongest woman in the world. You wake up every day with a smile, a goal and a fire within you to fight until you can fight no longer. But, I'm here to tell you, as you have told me, it's okay to not be okay.

I am so thankful that God blessed me with my soul mate & my angel on earth. Never have I met someone with such a pure, authentic and selfless heart. You have made every day of my life brighter and I can only hope to impact someone's life as much as you have impacted mine. Thank you for all the joy, laughter and love you have filled my life with. You forever have my heart.

I love you grandma, and never forget it.

Cover Image Credit: Alex Wilkins' Photo

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Goodbye To The Man Who Built My Family

Thank you for being the best papa.

It’s weird to think that each year you’re alive, you pass your death date. You go through the motions, age a year older, celebrate life for what it is and keep going. You never stop to think about how this day, next year, could be the day you take your last breath.

Unfortunately, for my Papa, that day came on February 19th.He was sick for awhile, but not very long. Once it all became too much for his body to handle, he shut down and peacefully went up to be with his family and friends who had already passed on, leaving a legacy and a gaping hole in my family’s hearts.

I’m not sure if there’s anything up in heaven like the Internet or not. I guess if there was we would still be able to talk to the people who leave us. But Papa, if you’re able to read this, I just want you to know: I love you.

You were a strong man, a family man. You always put your family’s needs above your own and you were there for us emotionally, physically, and often times financially. There was no one quite like you, Papa. You knew right from wrong and instilled that in all of your kids, passed it down to your grandkids and your great-grandkids.

You were so immensely loved, Papa, and that will never change—no matter how much time passes. You carried so many roles in our family, and you managed to excel at each and every one.

You were an amazing cook, and I will truly miss your New Year’s dinners. You were an excellent listener, and you gave some solid advice, too. You were a nurse, the best nurse, to go to when my cousins and I got a bee sting or stubbed our toes.

You were fair and kind. I can’t even begin to recount how many fights you broke up between my cousins and me over this special blue sippy cup. You taught us how to share, how to love selflessly, and how to work hard for the things you want.

You were an incredible husband, father and friend, and there isn’t a soul out there who would disagree. You were the definition of “achieving the American Dream.“

You were a hardworking fisherman who was able to retire and watch his family grow and chase after their dreams. You got to see two of your granddaughters get married and start families of their own. You got to see your great-grandchildren come into the world, and even got to watch some of them grow up.

You had a long life, a great life. A life most people wish they could have. These may be small achievements, but to you, family was the ultimate prize. Sure, we might be crazy and have our flaws and we haven’t always gotten along, but we were yours and you were proud of the family you built. You always knew how to make something from nothing.

But Papa, I understand. Your body was weak and tired from the illnesses that age had bestowed upon you. Your heart and mind were strong, but your body was slowly giving up. You knew it would be a matter of time, which is why you’d take a little longer to say goodbye and kiss my cheek and say, “I love you, Baby.”

I wouldn’t have wanted you to fight harder than you had to because you knew your time was up. You waited for your family to be around you, you waited to feel the warm embrace of your family beside you, and you knew God was calling you back.

I don’t blame you for leaving, Papa, and I’m glad you waited until I could see you one last time. I’m glad that you could feel, even in your sleep, that we wanted you to go when it was time. We didn’t want you to fight any longer. We wanted peace for you, Papa.

And although for those who are left on this earth, feeling the aching pain that your absence brings, I can’t help but feel truly lucky to have had you as a grandfather. You make me a proud granddaughter, and I hope that not a day goes by where you aren’t watching over me and our family.

I don’t know if heaven allows computers, but I hope you see this somehow.

With all my love,

Your granddaughter

Cover Image Credit: Tessa Boucher

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Dear Grandma,

You were existing, not living.

I'd like to start off by saying, "Wow!!" You lived to be 96 years old. I was always kind of hoping you would make it to triple digits, but God saw otherwise. He knew the pain you were in and how weak your body had become. Nonetheless, not many can say they lived until their late 90s? You definitely had a blessed 96 years, and I hope I will be able to live that long as well.

While I miss you, I saw how rough the past few months were on you. The last time I saw you was the day before you died, and you were not living. You were only existing. You were not the Grandma I had grown up with, or the one I had spent the past 3 summers with. As much as I wish you were still here, I know that it is incredibly selfish of me to think that. You needed rest from all that your weakened body was putting you through, and the Lord's way of providing that rest was by calling you to your eternal Home. I cannot help but smile when I think of how happy you must be right now. You never have to endure pain or sadness again.

It's so wonderful to be able to smile at so many memories. Going to your house growing up was so much fun. You always made sure we had a snack if we were hungry, and it was so important to you that everyone was comfortable. Selflessness is a dying trait in today's culture, but it is one of the top characteristics I use to describe you to other people.

I enjoyed all the family Christmases at your house as well. You would always have your ceramic Christmas tree that you had made sitting on top of your fireplace, and you would always tell me that you made it. I was never annoyed hearing it multiple times though. I could tell it was something you were proud of. Again, you always made sure everyone got plenty to eat. You always made sure everyone was full, even with the challenge of 3 teenage grandsons who happened to be athletes.

It was a privilege to have been able to stay with you during the summer. Whether it was having ice cream by the river, picking up groceries at the store, or fixing lunch, it was time well spent. You and I played several games of Bingo and Farkle, which you often beat me at both. You were always good at Bingo, whether it be with me or at the senior citizens center.

It was neat that you moved to Barboursville the same week I moved into my first apartment. It was the beginning of a new chapter for both of us. I honestly do wish I had been able to visit with you more, but I never saw you get angry. You were always very understanding, and I am glad I visited when I did.

When I watch TV, it's typically not going to be the sports channel. However, I did enjoy watching baseball and basketball with you. Talking about the game with you made it more enjoyable. I also loved hearing about everything that was going on at the assisted care facility you were at. I loved the fact that you were getting involved and meeting new people.

You always were a people watcher. You knew a lot of people and had a lot of solid friendships, but you also did a lot of observing. I have found myself observing situations as well over the years. Maybe this is where I learned it from.

You were always proud of me, even if there wasn't much to be proud of. Whenever I would be discouraged with school or life, you would encourage me to not be so hard on myself. You knew that that is something I'm not good at. You always said that you wanted to be here to watch me graduate college. That is something I have thought about the past few days. It breaks my heart knowing that you died 3 months before I received my bachelor's degree, but God's timing is always perfect. You'll have the best seat in the house, alongside Grandpa.

Overall, I miss you, but I also know you were ready to go. You had a blessed life, and I am thankful that I was a part of it. I'll always cherish the memories, and I'm thankful this isn't goodbye. Meet me at the pearly gates someday when my race has been run. Until then, I love you.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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