On January 7, 2015, my grandmother passed away unexpectedly. She lived nearly ninety-six years, so, it may seem strange to describe her death as unexpected, but it was, at least to me. Since her father died at the age of 106, and her older brother will be ninety-nine years old in a few months, I just assumed that she would live to be at least 100 years old. I used to tease her that if she didn’t live as long or longer than her father, then she was nothing but a quitter. That statement used to make her giggle, and she would respond with, “Oh honey, I don’t know about that.” I thought I knew, but she knew better. So, news of her death caught me off-guard, and honestly, if she had lived another ninety-five years, I still would not have been ready for her to leave this world.
While her death surprised me, she made sure that there were few things left to chance, as she had been planning for her death and funeral since I was a child, perhaps even longer. My first recollection of what seemed like a morbid preparation was when I was twelve years old, and she asked me to try on a jacket of hers. After taking in the vision before her, she proclaimed, “I think I will leave this to your cousin, as it looked better on her.” Those words sent me into a panic, as I thought it was her way of telling me that she was dying. Once she reassured me that she was not terminally ill, she explained that she was simply preparing for the inevitable. It was at that moment that I realized that my time management and organizational skills surely must be genetic.
Over the years, my grandmother lived life fully, while continuing to plan for her death. She left no stone unturned, down to the kind of potatoes that she wanted served at the luncheon following her funeral service. One of the details that she attended to that delighted me to no end was the fact that she wrote her own obituary, a very lengthy one at that! Of the many things that she chose to share in this summary of her life, the one statement that made me smile though tears was one of her “most frequent quotes”. As I read this quote, I could hear her saying it in my mind, “Do not forget to smile or say ‘thank you’, neither costs anything, but is very rewarding.”
At this point, I could list some of the countless ways that my grandmother showed kindness to everyone she encountered, but instead, I will let her quote speak for itself. Those two small gestures can have a huge impact indeed. Kindness is one of my grandmother’s many legacies, and I hope that her two namesakes, my daughters, and I carry on this particular family tradition and make her proud. Thank you, Grandma!
Just one thing each day . . .