Showing posts with label Grief. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grief. Show all posts

Family Legacy

Mark and I both had family members pass away rather suddenly this past weekend. And while these family members had lived long full lives, the grief is still real. As we were processing, I was reminded of a post I wrote for Naptime Diaries about the lessons of family. We are both so blessed by the stories of the family that has come before us, the lessons they have shared, and the legacy they leave with us. I hope you enjoy the post below. (originally posted here, December 2011)  

Hi! My name is Shannon from The Scribble Pad. I am thrilled to be here on Naptime Diaries. I am a wife and momma but first and formost, a daughter of Christ. I am so glad to be here sharing with you all, and hope to continue to see you all around blog-land and maybe even real life!

My Grandmothers

My grandmom was a florist and a gardener. As a little girl, I would sit in her shop and watch as she magically arranged flowers. We would wake up early on the weekend and ride to churches to decorate for weddings, me in the back of the van holding the buckets from tipping over. It is with my grandmother that I began to travel. She hosted all of the family parties. From her I gained my taste for all things savory, strong cheeses, the benefits of wine, and my appreciation of fresh seafood.

grandmom holding me, my son makes this very same face!

My Yia-yia taught me our family favorite recipes. To this day, I cannot bake a cake, but I can spend days making Greek pastries and feel her next to me as I pour the butter and roll the phyllo dough. I can make these by heart, feeling for the measurements but still insist on reading her scrawl, half in English, half in Greek, and measured in mug-fulls. As I dance around our apartment with Behr, it is because this is what Yia-yia did with us, we sang, and danced, and laughed.

Yia-yia when we were making baklava for my wedding.

And then another grandmother came into my life. My cousin’s grandmother. She asked me about books, taught me about letter writing, and gave me my first calligraphy pen when I was just in elementary school.

Fast forward 20+ years and here I am, doing calligraphy and coordinating weddings, sending 200+ Christmas cards each year, and opening my etsy shop of hand-stamped note cards, so you too can share the joy of letter writing with those you love. Even up until a few years ago, I never would have imagined how significantly all three of these women would have impacted my life.

As I have plunged into motherhood, I am reminded of my own mother. I cannot even begin to name the ways she has and continues to bless me and teach me. But what I am most grateful for is that she allowed these three strong women, my “grandmothers,” to come along side her and help.

She didn’t always agree with everything they said or did; I know this now. But she guarded me from any animosity. She let these women come into my life and mold and shape me.

It is not always easy to let others impact your children. I wrestle with this daily. But I am reminded by the incredible impact that others can have. And so I pray that our family is surrounded by the blessings that helped raise me.

Thanks so much for reading my story.

If you want to chat about this or other journeys of motherhood, feel free to contact me.

Remembering Yia-yia

A generation has passed. In saying goodbye to Yia-yia, a chapter of my family closed. All of my grandparents have passed away. It is something I never realized would happen. That sounds crazy. People die. But the concept never really sunk in.

Growing up, I had the blessing of knowing not only my four grandparents, but also three great-grandmothers. In fact, one of my great-grandmothers lived until my senior year of college, knew Mark well, and often would tease him for great-great-grandkids even though we weren't married yet.

I always pictured my own children having the same experience.

Behr will not listen to my Yia-yia singing in Greek. He will never eat her cooking, although my sisters and I will try our best to replicate the recipes she spent years teaching us. Behr will not learn his exercises from Yia-yia, nor will he learn anything else directly from my grandparents. It is my responsibility to carry on their legacy, to share their story, to pass down the lessons.

Yia-yia was a constant in my life. She was at our dinner table several nights a week, she joined us on nearly every family vacation, and fortunately she taught simple lessons early and often. I had the opportunity to give remarks at her memorial, and here is what I remembered:
Always be prepared to feed your guests. If you and your family came over my house unexpectedly, while I may get flustered, I will have enough food to feed you. (even if your family dinners are like mine, about 20 people!)

The importance of saying I love you. Yia-yia said I love you often. She made us pause and look her in the eye when she told us, just to be certain we were hearing her. This came full circle for me when she sent a post card to Mark while we were dating. The post card mentioned the weather and other unimportant facts, but ended with three words that meant the world. "I love you" from Yia-yia gave Mark permission to marry me long before he ever talked to my Dad.

Always exercise. Even after her first stroke, Yia-yia continued to do her exercises. Arms up and down and touch the ground, up and down and touch the ground. I may always be able to hear her repeating this mantra.

In addition to exercising, it is important to have the right attitude, "Accentuate the positive, eliminated the negative, latch on to to the affirmative, and don't mess with Mr. In-between."

And perhaps most importantly, when my kids are sick, all they will need is a healthy dose of homemade avgalemeno soup and a few Shirley Temple movies.

Thank you for the incredible kindness you expressed over the past few weeks. 

Cherishing Moments

Grandparents can be the best adults to little kids.  They come over, play games, swoon over you, and bring gifts. My grandparents had an every day role in my life. They visited frequently, ate dinner with us several nights a week, taught us how to bake and garden, and cheered for all of our sports. I am grateful for the relationship the my parents fostered.  I am grateful that both sets of grandparents were involved in everything.  That is what has made the past two years so hard.

I never thought that my grandparents wouldn't be around. I realize now that over their past few years, with good health, I took their presence for granted.  And now I am cherishing the moments I have left.

My Yia-yia has loved on me and now she loves on Behr. I send her cards with pictures of Behr and she kisses them every chance she gets.  When she met Behr for the first time, she couldn't stop crying at her precious koukla, darling, beautiful, doll.  The name she referred to my siblings and me when we were little kids running through her house.

february 2011 ~ three weeks old

august 2011 ~ 31 weeks
don't mind their crazy faces, they were thrilled to see each other

And so now, as the holiday's approach and I realize how much I am missing my family, I am going to cherish the moments that we get before they are gone.

Learning to Grieve

Grandmom and Aunt Mary in 1986

This past year has marked the passing of my Grandfather, Aunt, and Grandmother all on my Mom's side of the family.  As 2010 began, I never would have imagined that by June of 2011, these three pillars of our family would be gone.  I am realizing for the first time, that grief is an emotion that evolves.  Here is what I am learning as I wade through this season of grief.

Grief is sharp.  It is instantly painful.
When grief hits, there is not easing in and out of the emotion.  It is an overwhelming power that brings me to my knees. 

Grief is surprising.
It catches you at the most unexpected times.  The barrista at Starbucks this morning asked me if I had a fabulous weekend, and I welled up with tears.  The weekend was full of celebration, my sister's graduation, my cousin's 2nd birthday, and although we had my grandmother's viewing, we made every effort to celebrate her life.  And yet, asking if I had a good weekend still brought me to tears.

Knowing doesn't help.
Our family made the decision to keep my grandmother comfortable rather than aggressively fight her cancer.  Alzheimer's was already stealing her from us.  A brutal fight against cancer wasn't fair to ask of her.  And yet, knowing for weeks that her passing was eminent didn't make the intensity of reality any easier.  I always thought it would...

Children are one of the best medicine's for grief. 
My three and half year old cousin Emma came and gave me a hug at the viewing.  Emma then promptly let me know that we could both paint our toenails rainbow to match so we could be happy.  Adorable.  Behr has also been a comforting champ!

God's timing doesn't make sense.
And yet, we can rest in his promise that his timing is perfect.  I had a very hard time when a trip to tell our family we were pregnant became a weekend marked by the very sudden loss of my grandfather.  And yet, now I am grateful that he didn't have to watch my Aunt Mary and Grandmother suffer and pass before him. 

Grief makes God's promise ever more true.
The promise of a life to come is the only comfort I can find.  God is a comforter.  I am grateful for the small gifts I see today - a bird chirpping at my window the morning Grandmom passed away, being home last Wednesday instead of at the office so I could see Behr roll over for the first time.  These little moments are just a glimmer of the glory that is to come. 


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