This blog has been sitting in my draft pile for a while now. I’ve been hesitant to post it. It’s a little heavy. BUT… it’s a lot true. So hopefully it will bless some of you out there and maybe, for some of you, this is the perfect time to post it.
I don’t know my Grandma’s favorite color.
It breaks my heart that this woman who cared for me so dearly as a child. Who left such a deep impression on my heart with her simple, honest life. She’s now gone, and I feel I didn’t even know the most basic things about her.
One of the best parts of being home for my Grandma’s funeral was getting the opportunity (and having a darn good excuse) to ask lots and lots of questions about her. I swear, if I could go back and live those first 20 years of my life over again, I would sit at her feet and force her to tell me her life story. I would learn every recipe by heart. I would know the name of her best friends, her cousins, her horse. I would have a well-worn path across my mind of her life- home and childhood, sewing and cleaning tricks, dreams and desires- that I could carry with me and pass on to my children.
But by the time I got to her bedside in late January it was too late.
The night she died, my mom and I sat beside her looking through her scrapbooks. Wedding photos. Baby shower cards. Poems she liked. We talked about our memories of her. Wondered what she would tell us if she could say goodbye. Wondered if maybe she was already gone and just her body was waiting to finally wear out. Then we squeezed her hands. Kissed her head. Told her she could go. And we said goodnight.
Half an hour later the nurse called.
I spent the days leading up to her funeral pouring over black and white photographs that I had never seen before. Asking my mom a million questions. Sitting with my grandpa while he talked about how they met and courted and married.
I wanted so badly to know her as everyone else knew her.
I never will.
But… For many of you, it may not be too late. For many of you, that treasure may still sit at your table for Christmas dinner. She may still be making her famous fried chicken on Sunday afternoon. He may still be driving his great grandchildren on the tractor.
Please… I beg you… don’t let them go until you have squeezed every memory out of them. Write it down. Record it. Take pictures. Make your children spend weekends with them (without a cell phone). Drive them through the town or farm or city where they grew up. Hang onto them.
This is not stuff of old age. This is yesterday. A simpler day. A day that must be remembered when our culture gets lost and our compass is broken.
Perfect? No. Harder? Yes. In many ways. Full of it’s own struggles and worries and pain? Indeed. But these people. These precious remaining ones hold a treasure that we 21st century folk will never get back again if we don’t take the time to listen…
before it’s too late.