Archive for the ‘The Family’ Category
Yes, it’s been 5 days since Halloween, but frankly, I’m impressed with myself for being even this timely. It’s not that William can’t be put down, he actually does fine with it, it’s that I go back to work next week so I don’t want to put him down for even a second. And typing, for me at least, really requires 2 hands.
Anyway, a few months ago, we asked Eli what he wanted to be for Halloween. Unsurprisingly, his response was “I nuh know.” (I don’t know) So we started suggesting things. All responses were met with a no and finally we gave up letting him have an opinion. We knew he would need something he could recognize and without any uncomfortable parts. Plus, we wanted Will’s costume to fit with Eli’s.
Finally, I had a stroke of brilliance. Well, one that you’d only understand if you watched the How to Train your Dragon movies, which we have, about 1089834587 times. And so Eli was Toothless, the dragon from HTTYD and Will was a sheep. For those who haven’t seen the movies, the dragons eat the sheep in the original and play games with them in the sequel. We were amused. Both boys’ hats are from Etsy, as was Eli’s costume. I made Will’s and he destroyed it in about an hour.
Also, Eli was not going to have a black nose, but after Addie (who went as Minnie Mouse) and Aunt Claire (who wore a Mickey Mouse t-shirt) colored theirs, Eli announced it was his turn and I couldn’t turn down his very reasonable request.
Good times were had by all and Eli has asked to go “trick or treaty” about 200 times since Friday. Can’t wait until next year!
There is a Jewish phrase that is used when someone passes away that I was reminded of today. In Hebrew it is zichrono livracha but it translates to “may his/her memory be a blessing.” While my grandfather was a practicing Catholic and probably has never heard this in his life, as soon as I heard it, I knew that it was exactly the right thing for today.
My grandfather passed away this afternoon, surrounded by his family. He is no longer in pain and after 12 years apart, he has finally been reunited with his wife of 50 years. I hope they’re already playing Mario Golf.
When I was 15, I moved into my grandparents house while my mom and I waited for our new house to be built. I was a disgruntled teenager who did not want to live with her grandparents and wasn’t always pleasant to be around, to say the very least. Every day as soon as I walked in the door from school, my grandma would shoot questions at me like a machine gun. How was your day? Did you learn anything? Did you see your friends? What’re you doing this weekend? Do you want a snack? At the time I wanted to scream, but I know in hindsight that it was just her way of showing her love. She was genuinely interested in all the answers, and all too often I responded mostly with eye rolls.
But my grandpa was different. I’d finish my homework and he’d walk into the den, sit down in the chair next to me and ask me if I wanted to play a video game. No other questions, no obligations. And then we would play. The conversations were always easy and quiet and mostly revolved around just how terrible I was at Mario Golf and how if I could just be more patient, maybe I’d hit the ball straight. We never did find out whether or not that was true. Patience is clearly a virtue I did not inherit from him. But he did teach me the value of quiet, of a slower pace, and in that way, his memory is already a blessing to me.
I don’t want to paint him as a dull person because that couldn’t be further from the truth. At my sister’s wedding, he somehow got ahold of the microphone and offered up all his remaining granddaughters for any takers. I should probably add that he wasn’t sober, but it was a wedding, virtually none of us were. One year for Christmas in our gift exchange he left 2 of the 3 spots for gift suggestions blank and put “a hooker” in the remaining one. This was especially troubling because there was a $50 limit on gifts and he was like 80 at the time. He always had a good supply of jokes and had a great way of diffusing tough situations with them, even if not always intentionally. As much as he valued silence, his easy laugh and great sense of humor is another memory that will always be a blessing to me. I’d like to think that all of us who knew him inherited a bit of that.
Possibly the greatest thing I have taken from my time with my grandpa was his ability to accept life as it was handed to him. He was dealt a lot of rough hands in his 88 years: colon cancer, diabetes, the premature and sudden death of his wife, tongue cancer and then a recurrence of tongue cancer. And while I know that these things made him mad and sad and frustrated, he never seemed to let that stop him. He grieved, but then he pushed forward. He didn’t fight life, he didn’t try to control the uncontrollable. He just lived the best life he could, given whatever the circumstances were. I don’t come by this ability naturally, in fact, very few of my family members seem to, but I hope that we have enough of these memories to help us all get through these tough times.
This past Thanksgiving, our whole family, minus one of my uncles, made it home for a family dinner. I noticed that while my cousins and several aunts and uncles and I were embroiled in a rowdy conversation (about someone’s ex-boyfriend who was overly feminine), that my grandpa was sitting quietly across the room. I asked my mom if we should get him a chair so he could sit with us and she told me that she had asked him, but he said he was good there. He told her that he was just so happy to see everyone together. He understood and taught us all how important family is and I know that we have enough of those memories to bless our lives forever.
As I go to bed tonight, my heart is heavy with this loss. I was tremendously blessed to have him for 31 years and I am grateful that he is no longer suffering, but there will never be enough time. My greatest sadnesses are that my sons will not get to eat pancakes with him on Sunday mornings, climb trees or play baseball in his backyard while he barbecues. Some of the happiest moments in my childhood and adulthood took place in his presence and I know that I am a better person and a better parent for having him in my life. We will never stop missing him, but I will work each day to allow his memory to be a blessing in my life and in the lives of those I love.
And I think he really would’ve liked that.
When I think back on my childhood, there were a number of adults who played a major role in my development. My parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, siblings and the like. But if I had to pick one person who wasn’t related to me who played the biggest role in shaping the person I am today, it would be, without question, Kathy.
Kathy was my 5th grade teacher, which I know sounds a little random (and I definitely didn’t call her Kathy then and barely can now), but it was a pivotal year for me. 3rd and 4th grade were years where I was tormented every day by my classmates. I was called every name you could imagine, mocked for any and everything and when my mom brought the issue up to my principal, she told my mom that I brought it on myself (which, what?). The people who were supposed to protect me from bullying didn’t and it made it very hard for me to trust my teachers. Not to mention, on my last 4th grade report card I got a C+ in math, out of nowhere, and when my mom asked about it, my teacher said that she gave it to me “because Katie needed to be taken down a peg.” For real.
So in 5th grade, my mom moved me to a different school and I’m not sure if it was luck of the draw (I suspect not since my mom taught at both my new and old schools), but Kathy was my teacher. On the first day of 5th grade, a classmate who had transferred schools with me started teasing me on the playground and within a matter of moments, Kathy shut it down. For the first time in years, I felt like I had a teacher who had my best interests in mind.
And that year was one of the very best. She fostered in me a love of learning that I had lost. She helped me learn what it was to take responsibility for my mistakes instead of hiding from them. I credit a lot of my work ethic and eventual academic success to her, but more importantly, she gave me self-confidence in a time where others had stolen it away, she gave me trust in adults when I had lost it long before. I came out of 5th grade a different person than I started.
Her influence didn’t end there because Kathy and my mother have been good friends for years and she continued to be in my life long after that year. She has been to birthday parties and holidays, she insisted upon doing the calligraphy for our wedding invitations (and it was amazing!) and threw a baby shower for Eli that was incredible. She came to my 30th birthday party last year, which besides her was exclusively family. Because honestly, she feels like family.
And now she has cancer. Last week she had major surgery for an invasive abdominal cancer and had to have a second procedure yesterday for a complication that arose. It surprised me not even a little bit to learn that she ripped out her breathing tube yesterday (she’s pretty feisty) and has kept her doctors very much on their toes. She’ll be starting chemotherapy soon and has a long road of healing and poking and prodding ahead of her.
There is no donation fund here, I’m not looking for money or food or anything that will cost you money, but I can’t lose her. And so I’m sharing Kathy with you. I’m hoping that if all of you take a bit of our story with you and love her a little bit that maybe think about her or add her to your prayer lists or your thoughts, that things will start to make a turn for the better for her.
I’m not someone who tosses the world love around easily and the other day I was talking to my husband and without even thinking I blurted out, “she has to get better, I love her.” And truly, I mean it. I love this woman as if she was my own family. I am who I am, so much, because of her and to be honest, I’m scared right now about what she is facing. I’m not ready to imagine a world without Kathy and if you knew her, you would understand. She makes this world a brighter place every single day.
So as a not overly religious person, I’m asking for whatever you can give. If prayers are your thing, please offer some for Kathy and her husband Jim. If thoughts are more your speed, please send good thoughts her way. And if neither of those suit you, please tell someone in your life how much you love them and how much they mean to you. I know I’ll be doing that the next time I see Kathy because right now I hate that I’ve never done it before.
If you want to keep up with her journey, Kathy has a caringbridge page here.
I never got around to writing a Thanksgiving post, not because I am not thankful for a great many things, but because those great many things have kept me pretty busy over the past few weeks. And so now Thanksgiving is a month behind us and Christmas has passed and the new year is rapidly approaching. So my Thanksgiving post is getting combined with a year end one.
This has been an intense year. Intense in and of itself doesn’t have a positive or negative slant and I think that’s how I’m going to remember this year. It has had incredibly high highs and the lowest lows that I have ever known or imagined. I am walking away from this year a very different person than I started it. I feel older, not just 364 days older, but more mature, a bit worn, and like I lost innocence I didn’t realize I had left to lose. I am changed.
This year I’ve had the incredible fortune of watching my son transform from a baby, not yet mobile, to this full grown boy. One who walks, runs, talks, tries to jump and laughs the greatest laugh on this earth. I got to parent him, comfort him and shape him into the person he is. That is and will always be the greatest blessing of this year. That little boy is the best thing in my whole world and the family he created is the most important thing to me in this world.
This year was not easy on my marriage, but as we enter 2014, my husband and I are literally the strongest we have ever been, the happiest we have ever been and the most able to communicate that we’ve ever been. 2013 has been a transformative year for my family and the family that will enter 2014 is a strong unit with much to look forward to in the next 12 months.
This year also forced me to face my greatest fear- something terrible happening to my son. I watched him fall head first off a bed, become unresponsive, get loaded into an ambulance, get discharged, admitted, discharged and readmitted to 2 different hospitals. I saw IVs be placed and removed, CT scans be performed. And I saw my son suffer tremendously, which was a million times worse than all the rest of that experience. I will never be able to forget what I saw, what I felt and how terrible it was for all of us. Those memories have finally started to fade, but they are still there, in the back of my mind, catalogued forever. It was without doubt the most horrible few days of my life. It is easier to stand it now that I am on the other side of it and my son is fine, but the complete horror of those days held onto me with tremendous force for months and months. I may never again be the same person I was in early March, but I am finally starting to feel closer to it.
This year came full circle in a way, because I was climbing out of postpartum anxiety/depression at the beginning of 2013 before falling head first into post-traumatic stress, and now as we leave 2013, I’m finally feeling well again. I am enjoying my life, I am present with my son and husband, I am happy. Each and every day, I am happy. There were many months where that couldn’t be said and I could not be more grateful to be where I am today. I think that I sunk to a deep place but have emerged at least as strong, if not stronger than I was before.
I don’t know whether the highs canceled out the lows this year, but I know that I am leaving it a happy, fulfilled, loved and loving person. I am endlessly grateful for a number of things this year and I truly know that I wouldn’t have survived without my family, my friends and while this may seem a little out of place, I wouldn’t have survived with medical professionals. Both for my son and for myself, modern medicine made a huge difference in our lives and we owe a great debt of thanks to a number of physicians who took incredible care of us.
I am hopeful that 2014 is going to be an easier year for us and one with some great experiences and changes. But most of all, I’m excited to begin a new year with the family that I love dearly, with good health and with incredible friends who’ve helped me find my way this year. I could not be more grateful for all the people in my life and I can’t wait to begin another year with all of you.
After way too many hours of labor, I am officially an aunt!
Adelaide Grace was born at 4:44pm weighing 7lb 8oz and measuring 21 inches long.
I haven’t gotten to see her in person yet, but I have enough photographic evidence to tell you with great confidence that she is a completely perfect, beautiful, baby girl. I’m so proud of my sister for sticking through a very difficult labor and delivery. I have no doubt that many women, myself included, would’ve quit if they were faced with the circumstances of her delivery. She is a superhero. And now, also, a mom.
Happy birth day, ladies. I love you both tremendously.
If you know me now, or even knew me as a teenager, you might be surprised about the kind of child I was. I did well in school and participated in many different activities, but I had a temper. A very serious temper. It took very little to set me off and quite a lot to calm me down. It started when I was a toddler and grew in intensity through early elementary school. My parents like to say that I was passionate, but I remember feeling completely out of control when I got upset.
I remember would get into trouble for something totally typical, like talking back or fighting with my sister and my parents would tell me to go to my room. This was their attempt to stop the meltdown before it began. I obviously don’t know how often, but plenty of the time, they were too late. I wouldn’t go to my room because “it wasn’t fair” or “I didn’t do anything wrong.” I’d scream, yell, hit. I once scratched my mother’s arm until it bled. Eventually I would go to my room, and often times I’d scream that I hated my parents (purely in an attempt to make them feel bad) and then I’d slam my door.
The punishment system in our family was pretty straight forward. Minor offenses were time in your room, major offenses were a spanking with an open hand, always over clothes, always on the butt, never in anger. It was never unclear what merited which punishment, I knew the rules.
And I got spanked a lot.
Each spanking was done in an order. The punishing parent came in after a few minutes of quiet time in your room, discussed what had happened, doled out the spanking and gave me a few minutes to get myself together and then life went on. I was never in pain, I never felt abused. I trusted my parents and knew how very much they loved me. And I loved them too.
After a few years, I eventually learned to control my temper and I believe, undoubtedly, that it was because of the punishment system in our house. Because there were consequences, including spanking, I was able to slowly learn to use my words, calmly, instead of my actions and fists. I can tell you with all honesty that time outs alone would not have worked for me, they didn’t work for me and it wasn’t for a lack of trying.
At 18 I graduated high school with a 4.3 GPA. I received the most scholarship money out of anyone from my 500 person graduating class. I went to a top 40 college and graduated in 4 years. I went on to get a teaching credential, then a doctoral degree from the #1 ranked program in the country for my field of study. I don’t say this to brag, I say this to show you that unlike the studies that are so often cited these days, spanking didn’t stunt my IQ. It didn’t effect my academic performance (except maybe that I’ll never know when to use affect or effect), it didn’t cause my self-esteem to suffer. I have achieved great things, even with my horrific upbringing.
I am currently very happily married. I have a baby that I love with ever fiber of my being. I have my life together, I am calm and content. Again, I’m not bragging, I’m saying it to show you that unlike the most recent study’s results, I’m not a drug dealer, I am not clinically depressed nor psychotic. I am a well adjusted 29 year old. And I believe that I am who I am because of my parents and because of how they parented me.
These studies are tremendously frustrating to me because there are so many confounding factors that are ignored- parental education, socio-economic status, history of abuse unrelated to spankings, all of which influence the development of a child. You cannot lump all forms of corporal punishment together because spanking, in a controlled, non-angry manner is not the same as beating your children. You know how I know this? Because I received the former and I am GRATEFUL for it.
Furthermore, those studies did not find a causation, they found a correlation, but you won’t find a single article that says that. The way they are splashed about on news sites and blogs, as though these studies discovered that spankings are the only cause of all problems, is horribly misleading. It’s like saying that high school makes girls’ breasts grow when in reality, the timing of breast growth tends to fall near the start of high school but nothing about high school is actually causing said growth.
I do not expect the anti-spankers to suddenly run out and embrace corporal punishment, but I’m writing this in the hope that they’ll stop acting as though my parents abused me. I hate reading about how spanking is the worst thing you could do to a child because I had outstanding parents and it is an insult to them to imply that they were anything else.
When discussing parenting, it’s not about black and white. It’s about doing what is best for your children and for me and my family, that meant a punishment system that included spanking. It worked for us and instead of stunting me, I credit it as a large part of how I became a successful adult. It’s easy to have an opinion about something you’ve never experienced, it’s hard to set aside preconceived notions and open your mind to the possibility that there are other options, other ways of doing things.
Parenting is all about finding what works for you, what keeps your children safe physically, mentally and emotionally. And I am grateful every day that my parents were so successful at doing just that.
It is amazing to me that tomorrow makes a decade. 10 years. I can’t believe it’s been that long and I also can’t believe it’s only been that long. 10 years ago, I lost my Grandma.
I say lost, because that’s how it feels now. I grew up in a family that was incredibly tight knit. A family who celebrated even little holidays like Labor Day with backyard barbecues filled with cousins, aunts and uncles. A family that was centered around one woman. And for 10 years, we have lived without her, grown without her and changed without her. I often wonder if she would even recognize us now because somedays I’m not sure I do.
More than a third of my life has passed without her wisdom, without her love, without her special brand of crazy. Without her I’ve gone through my college graduation, a cross country move, a religious journey (she would totally not approve of), my wedding, and soon my graduate school graduation and the birth of my son. Much has changed in these 10 years.
Most days now I can barely remember what her voice sounded like. What her hair looked like. The words to the swinging song. The way she read Caps for Sale to us whenever we stayed the night at her house.
She’s lost in my mind, in my consciousness. But my heart still feels raw with missing her. My memories may be increasingly bare, but my love for her remains and the love she gave is still tucked in my heart as well.
As I approach parenthood, I begin to understand so much of her that was a mystery in my childhood. My grandma worried more than any person in the history of the world. There was no worst case scenario she didn’t consider, no event she didn’t fear at least a little. She still enjoyed her life tremendously, but now when I look back, I am starting to see bits of myself in her.
It wasn’t that she was crazy, though we always thought she was. She was afraid of losing what mattered the most to her: her family. Which is funny now since it was us who lost her. But I am now really understanding this fear for the first time. Yes, she was frequently irrational with her fears, she was occasionally absurd with her rules.
But what she was really being was a mother.
I don’t know that I’ll go to the extremes of worrying that my grandma did, honestly, I hope I don’t. But I do hope that when my family looks back several decades from now, they know that in all things, I loved them and protected them. That sometimes my decisions seemed irrational or unfair, but they were all motivated by love. They were all centered in concern for the thing that matters most: family.
For there were many lessons my grandma taught me, but loving and cherishing family was the most important. And it’s one lesson that I’ll never forget, no matter how many more decades I endure without her.
On Friday afternoon I got in my car and drove 120 miles north to one of my favorite places in the world, Ventura, California.
Ventura is the city where we vacationed every summer of my childhood. We stayed in my great-aunt’s beach house every year until I was in college. We packed aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and sometimes friends into that house, sometimes sleeping 4 or 5 to a room if necessary.
In the early mornings we walked on the beach and then to the local donut store through the secret hole in the wall near the liquor store. We stayed up late playing blitz, sometimes for quarters and sometimes for the candies my grandma bought at the grocery store next to the donut shop. Each day we walked down the street to the sandy stairs and up to the beach to build sand castles, to boogey board.
Because we were staying in my great aunt’s house for a really discounted price (they rented it out to people in the summer), we were told we had to conserve resources. So this meant when we crawled back from the beach after a long day of boogey boarding, we had to shower both with another cousin (of the same gender and general age) AND in the outdoor (though fenced off) shower. That shower presented both the greatest challenge and the greatest humor each summer.
When my older sister and cousin were showering, another cousin and I would turn on all the hot water in the house, so they only had cold (yea, not so good with the conservation). In turn, during our shower they would throw buckets of ice water over the fence on us. There was one time that someone, I’m honestly not sure who, threw a bucket of cold water on my sister and cousin and as retaliation my cousin came running out, completely naked, with the hose. And in the process soaked my grandma completely and put out her cigarette. I will never, ever forget the look on my grandma’s face as she sat there, dripping wet, while the rest of us watched behind the sliding glass door.
In the years since those days, my great-aunt and great-uncle have remodeled the house and now live in it full time, so we no longer stay there as a family, but we do visit whenever we’re in town. On Saturday we stopped by for a spaghetti dinner and for reminiscing.
It was the first time I’d really been in the house in years and I couldn’t believe how much it reminded me of my childhood. I remembered the showers, the bunk beds, all those years of sharing rooms, of bringing tape decks and blasting “Manic Monday” and dancing along. There are so many memories wrapped up in that house, in that city. It makes me feel both at home and melancholy for the experiences of my childhood. For my grandma, who isn’t here anymore.
This year it was just a small group of us and I realized, sadly, that the cousins who came along (ages 9, 7 and 2) never met or knew their grandma and sadly, their other grandma has a fairly rapid course of Alzheimer’s. They are living a completely different childhood than I did, with my mom filling much of the grandma void, and with a different grandpa than I knew. A slower one, but a more present one. One who comes to their home once a week and makes pancakes. One who babysits during nap time and whose name (Papa) the kids mastered before almost any other.
Just being there, seeing that beach through the eyes of these kids takes me back to when I was their age. When we had a week of care free time to be kids. To be a family. And though it’s not the same, I’m glad that they can have a taste of the summers in Ventura that I got to experience.
On Saturday my 7 year old cousin Mary looked at me and said, “Katie, how did they put all my favorite places in the world in Ventura?” And I just looked at her and smiled. Because I don’t know.
But somehow they put all my favorite places there too.
I was reminiscing with my family today about the months that I lived in Greece in college. I was lucky enough that I had family come and visit while I was there. Not only did it alleviate the homesickness that I occasionally battled, but it also gave me a chance to show my family around my new, though temporary, home.
My dad and step-grandpa came to visit in the middle of my time there and we planned an adventure. I knew seeing Greece with my dad was going to be different than seeing it with the other family who I had enjoyed visits with. You see, my dad shares the same totally nerdy love of history that I do. He is fascinated by the same kinds of things I am, we share a common political mind and I knew he would enjoy the ruins at least as much as I had. I knew he would just get it.
I didn’t have classes on Fridays while I was in Greece, so early Friday morning he and my step-grandpa rented a car and picked me up. On the way to my apartment he turned the wrong way down a one way street, which if you’ve ever driven in Athens morning traffic you know was not an idea situation. But he made it, in relatively close to one piece, and we were soon on our way.
We stopped at Thessaloniki and talked about the biblical history and looked at the platform where Paul spoke to the Thessalonians. We drove south through the Peloponnese peninsula and stopped in Sparta and other historical sites. We spent the first night in a hotel where I had a cot that periodically just broke apart for no good reason, landing me ass first on the floor.
The next morning we set out again, trying to find Mycenae and later Olympia. Only, Greece is not really all that well mapped or signed. And we got totally lost. This was 7 years ago, long before GPS units and smart phones were around, so we had our maps and a lot of empty space out in front of us trying to figure out where to turn. We decided to continue driving, that was, until we reach a ledge where the road kind of cut out.
I don’t remember exactly what happened that convinced us to, but before I knew it, we plowed over the ledge through what I think was a dried out river ravine and continued in the general direction we thought we wanted to go. And hours later, we found our destination. Together we walked through the Lion’s Gate, through burial caves and temple ruins.
In a way, seeing things through his eyes was almost better than seeing them through my own the first time. Telling him all the things I had learned about the historical sites, showing him ruins of temples, the first Olympic stadium and so many other things made the experience greater for me. We stayed in small hotel rooms and spent hours in the car, which most 20 year old girls probably don’t love. But these are memories I will absolutely never forget. Traveling those roads with my dad, ravines and all, were moments that I would never give back, never do over again, even if it meant not nearly risking our lives in a crazy ravine jump.
In so many ways I am a hybrid of my parents. From my father, I get my curly dark brown hair, my nose, my belly button, my torso, my long toes and my temperment. I can be quiet and calm, I can be laid back and easy going, I don’t mind doing things for others. But I am passionate about some things and I do not back down from those causes. I am as fiercely non-violent though it seems like an oxymoron, I hate war with all the deepest parts of my soul, I seek peace and love before all else.
My dad is a strong compass for me, pointing toward something calm, something strong. He is a place I can go when I need to vent, when I need help. He’s never one to judge and there is never any question about whether he has my best interests in mind. When planning our wedding he was always one of the first people I called after making decisions because I knew that he wouldn’t grill us about cost or location or religion, he wouldn’t bring up all the things that could go wrong, he would just tell us how excited he was for us and he would really mean it, without reservation.
I think that relationships with parents are as unique as each child themselves. I don’t value my relationship with my dad over that with my mom, nor vice versa. But I find that each is such a profound part of who I am, of what makes me me, keeps me grounded and helps explain how I became the person that I am, that I know that I could not have come to the point I have without them.
Today I celebrate my dad, for his support and unwavering excitement in all the realms of my life. I celebrate him for how he has shaped me into a passionate but calm person, how he has shown me that I can fight with conscientious thoughts not fists. I celebrate how he has instilled in me a passion for history, for politics, for knowledge. I hope that when I am a parent I can provide the same guidance he has given me, the same unwavering love and support through good and bad times, the same nerdy love for government and history. I hope that he knows that I have lived so much of my life wanting to make him proud of me, that there are few trophies, few achievements that could top his approval.
Happy Father’s Day Dad. I hope this is more creative than the Kindle card I settled on. You are impossible to shop for. But I love you tremendously anyway.
Memorial Day is a day we set aside to show gratitude for and remember those who lost their lives while protecting our country. I come from a family where many of my grandparents and great-uncles were in the military, though we were lucky in that most returned home safely.
Each year on Memorial Day, my grandmother used to take me and my sister to the large cemetery in town. We would stop on the way and buy flowers and then we would walk solemnly to her brother’s grave sites and place flowers and say a few words for them. She would tell us stories about them, about the things they did and how they lived and died. She cried some years, other years she was stoic, but her sadness often shone through.
These outings almost never went as planned. My grandma could never find the florist on the first or second try and then usually once we found the florist, finding her brother’s graves was always another journey. But my Grandma was focused, she would honor her brothers for their sacrifices, she would not let us forget about those who came before us.
It’s been 9 years since my Grandma died and probably 15 years since I last went to that cemetery with her to visit her brothers. She now rests in a nearby plot of earth and I’m somewhat comforted that she is near her brothers who she loved so dearly. But I find that on Memorial Day, my mind goes to her. To all the years that she taught us how important this day is, how to honor her brothers and the others who gave their lives for our freedom.
Today we remember those who fought for us, those who lost their lives so that we could have ours. We remember them, we remember their families and we honor their legacies.
And today like many others days, I remember her. I remember my Grandma for teaching me about Memorial Day, for reminding me to thank our servicemen and women. I remember her for all the ways she honored her brothers and the way she reminded us to be thankful for sacrifices that were made long before we were even born. I remember her for her bravery, for growing up without her brothers and for her sense of duty to them.
And I miss her, deeply, as I know others are missing their family members today. And just as she would want, I am grateful for the sacrifices made by families all over this country to give me the freedoms that I so often take for granted.
May they rest in peace, may they have sisters who tell their stories to new generations so that their memories, their bravery and their lives will never be forgotten.