One short month ago today, we lost the patriarch of our family. This meant I lost my grandfather; my Big Chicken Hawk. It meant my mother lost her Dad; I don’t know how any ‘little girl’ goes through that. But most heartbreaking of all, was what this meant to my grandmother; she lost her husband of 64 years.
64 years, 3 months and 26 days to be precise. I think a marriage that survived so much, and a love that endured that long, deserves to be remembered with such precision.
I struggle to comprehend what a loss like that would be like. I struggle to comprehend how anyone says goodbye to someone who has been such a big part of them, of every day of their life, of every inch of their being. But, that’s me, not my grandmother; apparently she doesn’t have the word struggle in her vocabulary.
Her gracefully gusto approach to life has always impressed me, especially as I got older and learned about her younger years; she was born during the Great Depression, survived her home being bombed during WWII; was one of the ‘Operation Pied Piper’ kids evacuated from London, before later fled to Scotland with her family. And that was all before she turned twelve. Looking at it like that, maybe she was so accustomed to struggling it was just something that became the norm and anything better than that was positively brilliant.
It goes without saying that losing her husband was a very sad experience for my Nan. And it also goes without saying that her time left on Earth without him will never quite be the same. But what doesn’t go without saying is how brightly she still looks upon things. How, despite her grief, she finds a way to laugh at my silly jokes and make some of her own. (Not quite as funny as my grandfather, but she’s having a good crack, that’s the main thing. Haha!) She was thrilled at the news of her fifth great-grandchild’s arrival in the world. And the day we drove out to the country to meet this beautiful, not-yet-two-weeks-old little boy she was hard pressed to take the smile off her face.
Maybe such a sense of composure and contentment comes with age? Maybe the ability to view the world so matter-of-factly also comes with age? I’m not sure. I only know that she has fifty years life experience on me and if she has such an ability to smile, to laugh, to look forward to things as she has done this past month, then it gives me belief that I can do the same. Smile. Laugh. Always look forward.
I’ve always had a good relationship with both my grandparents, and in recent years, as I’ve moved into my twenties and now my thirties, I feel this relationship has only got stronger. I have learned so much about them and their lives. And I have learned even more from them, to help live my life.
From my grandfather I learned about strength and courage. That true soldier’s fighting spirit. And what I have learned from this remarkable woman in recent days and weeks is that if I’m at least half as remarkable as her when I’m in my eighties, then I will have known my time on this planet has been worthwhile.
‘Til next time,