As we drove home the other night I was appreciating the fields, the farms, and the silence. I turned my head and noticed the sun setting in the west... It wasn't quite down so it was casting a perfect glow on the earth underneath it. The hair on my arms stood straight and I could feel my throat tighten. My mind turned, quickly, to other things. I wasn't going to get today back and I'm aware of how precious time is.
This weekend we laid to rest two of the most important people my life will ever know. I was blessed with so many great years with them and yet no matter what... it's never long enough. As we all spoke at their quiet, personal service it was quite evident that every single person standing there felt that they were the most special in their presence. We all long for one more conversation. One more hug. One more card game. One more high pitched squeal "Uh LIZABETH..." (My gram never said the E and when she was mad at me her lips pursed and puckered- what I wouldn't give to make her mad one more time.)
My mind quickly races to the guilty side of itself... "there are people that don't get all those years." Then I get centered again and I know....everyone's loss is significantly relative to themselves and their families. Every single life lost is mourned, no matter their days or years in age. We were blessed with pillars of courage and strength for ninety plus years. In death both made choices that maybe I couldn't have made, and they went out of this world with dignity, both surrounded by all four kids. They taught us about LIFE. About HOW to live- how to have FUN. What was MOST important. WHO really mattered. We were blessed enough to get to learn from their example and that will never be forgotten.
Each one of those things will forever be a part of each person that they touched. It's woven into the very fibers of who we are... because they took the time to pour into our lives and into our families. We each possess a piece of them.
I think about EACH of their four kids. None more important than the other. They invested themselves, their time, and what money they could to show them they loved them. In the months since my gram passed I've had to process through several tough things and I find myself wishing I could talk to her. The thing is her voice is in my head and she will always be with me because she was intentional about talking to us and being there for us when she was here. They were present. That's a lesson I can learn from for every single relationship in my life.
My Life Lessons according to Grandpa:
- You can be a mans man but if your lady wants a pink house... she gets the damn pink house.
- It's noon somewhere. Crack open that Old Milwaukee. He was jovial and fun.. so much a part of our family!
- There's a place for everything and everything has it's place. By golly... put it there.
- Up before dawn... there's work to be done. Don't let him catch you sitting either!
- If your lady asks you to fix something... you don't do it later. Do it now.
My Life Lessons according to Gram:
- Doiliey's and pink everywhere. Knick Knacks are the fruit of life. I don't actually have that same taste but that lady could decorate with the best of them, and it didn't look 'grandma like.'
- Ladies should act like ladies... ALWAYS. (I got in trouble for low cut dresses a time or two. Sometimes I did it just to hear her get mad... she was funny when she was mad.)
- Family is always first. (Like calling her during my teen years to tell on my mom. She acted like she understood even though I clearly know now that she was trying to teach me quietly. They even came up and sat with me in the hospital for a week during one of my surgeries.)
- Ice cream after dinner is a must. She wasn't hung up on her weight... she enjoyed the small, sweet things in life. She was beautiful.
- Be adaptable and willing to experience new things. She learned how to use an iPhone and iPad at 89 and did so DAILY until she passed. Seriously I can't even figure out half of the stuff I should know!
The biggest gift, my most beloved treasure, from my grandparents was that they gave us themselves. They didn't leave this earth with stones unturned or words unsaid. That wasn't just our life lesson but our detailed road map for navigating this life. Things left undone will crush you. We are guaranteed not to get today back. Give of yourself, because you don't want to regret not doing so. The sun may have set on their lives but they cast their glow on the people they loved. Their bright light will never be dimmed because they passed on their torch and now it's our time to pour into people and shine that light so that others can learn to do the same.