Monday, June 7, 2010

Memorials and memories

It was with much sadness, we said our final farewell to Joan, Bill's mother and my children's beloved Grandma. She died in May from cancer. While I will carry the memory of her last months, I will cherish the memories of the years we had with her. Her strength, her courage, her love and devotion to her family will be what I carry in my heart.

I want my children to remember their grandmother and be able to express both their love and their grief. I have a difficult time talking to my children about the "hard" things. I know I am not alone in this, but knowing it doesn't give me the words to use. Peter was very open with his questions, but the other children weren't. I didn't do the greatest job preparing them for this outcome. Where do we go from here?

What is an appropriate memorial? Recently we attended a memorial concert for Bill's cousin. He was an accomplished musician and his memorial was a concert in NYC. A evening of memories and music. Tommy's friends showed their love and shared their memories through music. The audience seemed an afterthought - it was all about the music, as it was the music that tied them together. These friends had an outlet, a way to express their love and grief.

What does a family do? We aren't musicians and Joan wasn't famous. Just an ordinary family. But how do we now express our love and grief, how do we share our memories?

Life with my mother-in-law seemed to revolve around holidays and family gatherings. The last chapter of her life was no exception. It was Thanksgiving that she had her first symptoms. It was just after Christmas we knew the diagnosis. It was New Year's that we spent with Anita, her sister, wishing we could be together. It was Easter that brought her closer to her final days.

My children will remember their holidays and their Grandmother, forever entwined. Grandma always delighted them by granting their wishes and giving freely her love. The holidays always involved Grandma and revolved around family. Our holidays will be a living memorial to her.