We buried my grandmother in December.
It’s hard and blunt way to begin a post, but in a world where people are moving fast and always speeding to the next thing, I wanted to start with why any of this matters.
In the months leading up to her death, I noticed that I was desperate to take everything in. The details of stories she had told me a million times, her favorite breakfast foods, the color of her furniture, even the pieces of advice I’d ignored because I thought them outdated; at the end, I wanted to remember it all.
By then, I’d learned from my experience with my other grandparents that eventually much of it would begin to fade. I wanted to grab as much of it in full color as possible and hold on. She wasn’t perfect, but she was special. As she grew in years, she gained a lot of perspective, and I wanted to learn from her experience, even if I didn’t understand it.
I distinctly remember one day, well into her terminal diagnosis, we sat in her living room with the doors and windows open. She always loved the fresh air moving through the house. As we all sat enjoying the breeze, she broke the silence with words I’ve gripped. “Fall has always been my favorite season,” she sighed, her voice shaky “you would think it would be spring, but no, it’s still fall”.
She wanted us to know she still saw beauty in the season of death, even when she lived in the tension of its pain.
In that moment, I wished I had absorbed more of her words throughout my life. There must have been so much I missed along the way.
I find that in the months since her passing, I drink in words of elders in ways that I wouldn’t before.
Even when they infuriate me, confuse me, raise every sound argument laid in the marrow of my bones.
Because someday they’ll be gone and with them, the mystery of things they discovered that I can’t uncover. With them, their wisdom, sometimes lost in semantics that might outrage my youth, but things that were gained in their years of experience and trials that I haven’t earned or attained quite yet.
Years do not always make them right, but they give me less time to find out. And someday we’ll look back and realize that maybe we should have just taken in more, argued and tuned out a little less. There will likely be time to sort it out for ourselves later, but until then, sometimes you just love them, hear them, hold them. When they’re gone you’ll be thankful for the time you spent appreciating the good, not trying to do it on your own, and giving them space to tell you what they’ve learned in the time they’ve had.