Earlier this week I was tagged by my Mom in a post on Facebook. These days the majority of our communication is via FB, so I didn't think anything of it at first. Later that day I was scrolling through my FB feed when I saw what she had tagged me in. It was an article from the Asbury Park Press. All I had to do was read the title to know I had to put my phone down and save that read for a later time. If it was anything that I imagined it to be, it was going to hit my heart hard. Hard in the way that it jumps into your throat, it suddenly becomes difficult to swallow and your vision is instantaneously blurred as tears are involuntarily streaming down your cheeks.
A few days later, as I was awaiting the remaining passengers to board my flight back to Chicago, something reminded me of that article. I decided, I'm in a window seat (a high preference of mine - always get a window seat), it's early, there are only a few people around me and I have a scarf on. Let's cry this one out.
I was only a sentence in before the tears hit. My heart ached in a way that it hasn't ached in quite some time. I suddenly realized the scarf was of no use - I needed a box of tissues.
(before you continue, please take the time to read the above article by TINA PLANTAMURA for the Asbury Park Press ... I'll wait here)
I don't think I could EVER accurately express what my father's parents meant to me. Especially my Grandmother, who was taken from us way too early. I was barely a teenager when she passed. Actually, to be honest, I am not even sure I was a teenager yet.
Although I was young, I remember my Mom getting frustrated with my Grandmother at times and I never really understood why. I just remember thinking, how could you possibly think badly of Grandma?!?! Don't you know her? She is the most amazing person on earth and would never purposely hurt a soul. Do you have any idea what she means to us -- to me?!?! How much we enjoy and love her dearly?!? However, after reading that article (and the mere fact that my Mother shared it with me), I think I get it now.
For me, it wasn't about the extra scoop of ice cream in our Root Beer Floats or the endless supply of Andes Mints or the late bed-times. It was the unforgettable feeling and excitement I would get knowing that we were going to Grandma's. It was the smell of her house and the sound of her voice. It was the everlasting love that she showed us in every possible way she could. She made us feel like the most important kids in the world - which, to me, is what grandparents are for.
To this day I can still hear her voice and I have moments that I wish I would dream about her, just one more time. Although I am appreciative of the time I did have with her and my grandfather, I am envious of people who still have grandparents in their lives. When I have a bride and groom who are blessed to have a grandparent at their wedding, I want to run up to them and say,
"Take your time. Hold them a little bit closer today, allow that hug and embrace to linger. Savor it. You are one of the lucky ones."
Not everyone gets to have the experience/memory of a grandparent there to witness their wedding.
What I wouldn't do to have the opportunity to hug my Grandmother or Grandfather at my (someday) wedding.
To my Mom: Mom, she couldn't have ever replaced you, she was an incredible bonus in our lives. Someone that was put here to enrich our souls and allow us to learn what it feels like to be loved beyond belief. I can't wait for you to be "that grandma" to my kids one day.
To "Beat-up" Grandma** (and "Beat-up" Grandpa**): Although the time was short, I am the luckiest person in the world to have had you in my life, and I wouldn't change that for the world. Thank you for being the world's most amazing grandparents any child could ask for. I wish everyone had the opportunity to experience grandparents like you!!
** This was our term of endearment for my grandparents - "Beat-up" Grandma and Grandpa. If you'd like to hear the story of how and why, be sure to leave a comment and I shall share the story in a follow up post.