After more than 93 years of life, my grandma died early Thursday morning. She has had many ups and downs over the past 18 months, but she proved to me and everyone I know that God truly has the final say. Doctors counted her out on several occasions, but “Lazarita” just kept on getting up! But, on Thursday, God declared that her work here on earth was finished. While death draws out many emotions, when one dies in the Lord, I find comfort in knowing that my loved one has gone on to their heavenly home. So, for me, Mom-Mom’s death is well with my soul!
As I was riding in my car this morning, I started thinking about the life she lived. I’ll be the first to admit, Mom-Mom and I had our share of differing views – she was quick to offer me unsolicited advice, feedback, opinions, and yes, sometimes criticisms – but, I’ve got to be one of the luckiest kids to have ever lived! God blessed me with two of the best grandmas ever known! They didn’t have a whole lot of material things, but they sure did have a lot of love to give. But, back to Mom-Mom. As I was riding, I thought of 3 key lessons my grandmother taught me. Mom-Mom taught me about acceptance, endurance, and sacrifice!
For many years, Mom-Mom worked at the Benedictine School, a school that served children and young adults with developmental disabilities. Upon her retirement, she served on the school’s Board of Directors as a member and honorary member until her death this week. My grandmother had the ability to look beyond each child’s disability and see their ability and zeal for life. As a result, most members of my family spent a bit of time working at the Benedictine School over the years. As a child, I remember going to work with my mother during the summers when she served as a summer school teacher there. I absolutely loved it…to this day, there are certain students who I can remember vividly! Something that may seem odd happened during those summer days – I learned to not view disability through a negative lens! I learned to accept all people as God’s amazing creation! At summer school, I was there in my Mom’s class just having fun with other students…I remember my favorite days were pool days! As I got older, I loved taking advantage of opportunities to volunteer at Special Olympics and be present for those who may feel like the outsider. It became a part of what defined me!
Mom-Mom also taught me how to endure. As children we often view the adults in our lives as perfect people. It’s not until we are grown ourselves that we fully understand their ability to survive the greatest of challenges in life! My grandma had it in her to face life’s challenges head-on! My grandfather was a diabetic his entire life, and she cared for him while working and raising their 5 children. My recent encounters with diabetes and its affects on one’s life has increased my respect for my grandmother tremendously! When life got hard, Mom-Mom continued to put on foot in front of the other. Multiple knee replacements…no problem! Fused leg…no problem! Lost daughter…no problem! Dementia…no problem! Mom-Mom’s ability to endure through life and all of its changes is a lesson in life for me!
Perhaps the greatest lesson I learned from my grandmother was sacrifice! She did that well. She was the oldest of her siblings, which meant she was not only a big sister, but a surrogate mother too! As if that weren’t enough, after raising her own children, Mom-Mom’s house was a haven for her grandchildren. Who needed a babysitter or summer camp when we had Mom-Mom’s house! Every summer my cousins and I would spend our days (and for some their nights) at out grandmother’s house. It was a sacrifice of love for her family! She dealt with their shenanigans (because I was always the good cousin). My brother and cousins would throw apples on the neighbor’s tin roof just to hear the thumping sound, then they would have contests to see who could throw the apples the farthest, and the worst, my cousins would write songs about me. Through all of our cutting up, Mom-Mom was always kinds to us (I only recall getting in trouble once for the apples); my Aunt Elaine used to threaten us with the switch off the tree, but not Mom-Mom, nope, she didn’t fuss with us all that much, so long as we didn’t interrupt her soaps or Norm Lewis on Channel 2 News.
I feel today as I did when Mom Putt passed away. I’ve managed to find peace while facing death. I thank God for the years He gifted me with Mom-Mom, He blessed her life abundantly and I’m one grateful soul! Now, I pray that my family remains close and perhaps grows closer through this!