Remembering My Grandmother

4 Nov
Autumn Falls

Autumn Falls

“Life is eternal, and love is immortal, and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.” – Rossiter Worthington Raymond

A little over a week ago, on October 25th, my grandmother lost her battle with cancer.  Generally, I’m a fairly private person, but she was an incredible woman and deserves to have a few words said about her.  So here you go.

I can’t remember the exact date that my grandmother was diagnosed with lymphoma…some time before July 2012, from what I can find…but I remember thinking it seemed impossible.  My grandmother was a vibrant woman, full of life and love.  I couldn’t imagine her being incapacitated by anything so devastating as cancer.

My whole life, I had known my grandparents to be adventurous and energetic people.  They had 5 children (my mother included), all of whom were spread out across the country and they spent a lot of their time traveling (driving in an RV, the ultimate on-going road trip) from state to state visiting family.  When they weren’t checking in on their children and grandchildren, they were keeping a busy social schedule, traveling between states to square dance (one of their favorite activites…yes somehow I inherited zero dancing skills.  I can’t even Zumba. haha).  It seemed as though my grandparents had been pretty much everywhere, both within the US and internationally.

Besides having endless amounts of energy (it seemed to young-Shannon, at least), my grandparents were the most caring, loving couple you would ever meet.  They were together 65 years, and without a doubt, it was a happy 65 years.  As most people do at the conclusion of a long illness, my cousins and I traded stories about our grandparents as a way to honor my grandma’s memory.  I remember visiting in September, and my grandfather had left a love note for my grandmother on the white board in their apartment: “I love you a bushel and a peck”.  One of my cousins from Texas brought up an instance about 6-7 years ago when she remembered watching Grandpa pinch Grandma’s butt.  Another cousin, from California, talked about how Grandpa never stopped trying to impress Grandma after all those years, and how Grandma always showed her appreciation for his efforts with a smile, and a sigh (read my cousin’s perfect tribute here, if you’re interested).  They were a shining example of how relationships should be….they were 100% open about their love for each other, always sharing kisses and smiles, and supported each other, good times and bad, throughout the years.  As Grandpa said this past January, when he talked about dancing with the woman he loved, “We need each other.  We hold each other up.”
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My grandmother’s love extended well beyond her relationship with Grandpa.  She was such a genuinely thoughtful and caring person.  Even in the age of email (and believe me, she was computer savvy.  I always joked I had to watch what I put up on Facebook, because both of my Grandparents were in my friends list!), my grandmother would be sure to send cards and letters, and photos…man, she loved her photos!…out to family.  Sometimes it was for holidays, sometimes it was just to keep everyone up to date on their latest adventures, and other times it was just to show she cared.  About 3 weeks ago, shortly before she was admitted to the hospital for the last time, I recieved a card in the mail.  It had a beautiful photo of a flower on the front, and in the inside my Grandmother wrote that she was sorry to hear the trip I had waited so long for didn’t go as I had planned (Peru) and she hoped the flower cheered me up, and that knee surgery went well.  She signed it the way she signed everything, “Love and Hugs”.

I’ve thought long and hard about my Grandmother, and decided two things.  I want to spend my energy appreciating the good memories I have of her and with her, and that the best way to honor her life is to try to live my own life in a way that mirrors the things she valued.  She was a smart woman, who appreciated the beauty of the world, she was an artist (she loved to paint), she valued family (did I mention the photos?  She had shelves full of photo albums and spent a lot of time working on a family history for us), she was frugal in a good way, a great cook (for my brother’s wedding, his only food request?  Grandma’s home made pierogi), she was bold and spirited, she loved to laugh (I can’t remember her without a smile on her face), she was confident and as my cousin said, “expected it from us”, she accepted people for who they were – quirks and flaws and all, she was supportive, she was loving, she was strong (my god was she strong.  She wasn’t going to let a little thing like cancer slow her down!), she was a rock for my Grandfather and for her children, and she impacted everyone she met simply by being herself.
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The photo at the top of this post was taken a few weeks back when my friend David was visiting from California.  We took a walk in the woods, appreciating Connecticut as it started to shed its greens in favor of some brighter colors.  The day was peaceful, and I remember enjoying my time with David.  We laughed, we supported each other as we worked to create beautiful images and the quiet of the woods was peaceful and soothing.  At first, I struggled a bit, trying to decide which photo to put up for my grandmother’s tribute, then I realized that this image, and that day is the type of memory that honored the way my Grandma lived her life.

Grandma was always completely supportive of all of her grandchildren, and although I do remember there were a few photos she pointed out here or there as favorites, overall she was outspoken about agreeing with my decision to pursue photography.  I am forever grateful to be part of such happy, loving, somewhat loud and crazy, accepting and supportive family and that culture stems from my Grandparent.  I am forever grateful to have had the best Grandmother a girl could ask for, to have learned the importance of love, of family, of laughter and of strength from the woman who set the example for all of us.

I’ll miss your smile, Grandma, but I promise I’ll never forget it.  Thank you for your love and the lessons you gave us.

XO
One of your many, many grandchildren

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18 Responses to “Remembering My Grandmother”

  1. Carissa November 4, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

    A wonderful tribute to your grandmother. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  2. photosfromtheloonybin November 4, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    That is one of the most heartfelt and beautiful tributes I have ever read!! I am very sorry for your loss, but it sounds like you have many wonderful memories to look back on and smile about. I have wonderful memories of my grandma too and will never forget her :).

    • seeingspotsphoto November 5, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

      Thank you for the kind words. I agree, gonna try to hold those memories close. That’s part of why I decided to write this, putting some of her best on paper so it wouldn’t be forgotten.

  3. Tuxedo Sophisticated Cat November 4, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

    What a wonderful tribute. My condolences.

  4. ginnietom November 5, 2013 at 9:07 am #

    sounds near and dear to…and soulful…:-)))

    • seeingspotsphoto November 5, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

      She was. Truly an amazing person in every way.

      • ginnietom November 6, 2013 at 9:51 am #

        just like your post in memory…so warm-hearted…
        thanks for reply…

  5. David Pasillas November 5, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

    Your grandma sounds like she was a special woman. Now it makes a little more sense to me why you are the wonderful person you are. You were blessed to have great role models.

    I remember this spot…great job choosing it, btw. It was peaceful and perfect, the kind of place you go to nourish the soul. I was nervous about how close you were getting to the edge on that very slanted rock. Instead of shooting much from where I was sat, I was ready to grab you if you started to slide off the cliff. Thank you again for supporting me by sharing your tripod 🙂

    • seeingspotsphoto November 6, 2013 at 2:12 am #

      Thanks fren. 🙂 xo I’m glad I got to share my tripod and the day with you!

  6. Bob Sedlor November 6, 2013 at 12:08 am #

    That was wonderful Shannon,
    Thank you.

  7. paulettemotzko November 20, 2013 at 7:08 am #

    Reblogged this on Totally Inspired Mind-Where Positive Minds Congregate.

  8. Lynne Ayers November 22, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

    This is a lovely tribute to your grandmother. I hope you also store it somewhere other than online to be sure it will be found by other family members down the road.

    • seeingspotsphoto November 22, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

      I am actually putting together a booklet for my grandfather as well. He doesn’t know it yet though, so shhhh. 😉

      • Lynne Ayers November 22, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

        Good for you – I know he will just love it. 🙂

  9. fgassette February 11, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

    A lovely tribute to your Grandmother. Thank you for sharing.

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

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