Today we had a memorial service for my grandparents. It's been over a year now since they passed and today was also meant to be an unveiling. Unfortunately something went pear shaped there and we didn't get the headstone in time, so we had a white cross instead - for now.
We decided their ashes should go back to the place we remember them most at. The happy times we shared in this little country town with them, growing up, learning, sharing with them there. It holds a special place in our hearts. All the Christmases we celebrated there, the times I went down on the bus by myself to stay and of course the fabulous times my brother and I had there together. Catching frogs at the pond, playing aeroplanes in boxes on their front porch, swinging under the oak tree, hiding in the hedge, popping to their shop for an ice-block and celebrating special events at the church my Grandad led.
I never got to say goodbye to Nana. Grandad passed away last year on my daughters birthday and we were are away on holiday, but I got to go to the funeral. Nana passed away not long after him but that time I was very sick with the flu and my daughter had pneumonia. That was the hardest thing ever, not being able to visit her when I heard what was going to happen and not being able to attend the funeral and say goodbye. I felt for the past year that I had really missed out, I'd had no closure.
Today was so good for me, personally. I was asked to speak at the service. For the life of me I couldn't think what I would like to say. I spent hours pouring over verses online, from other people, to no avail. Everything seemed too airy-fairy or too heavy. Since my faith has been all over the show the last little while, I found religious readings didn't sit right, but I also didn't want to offend others who still have that belief.
Yesterday, 20 minutes before the school pick up run, I remembered a quote in a book my husband gave me about Tranquillity. For the life of me I can't find it tonight, but it said something about your own courage being the only thing standing in the way of creativity. So I realised I needed to have faith in myself to say something from the heart, instead of trying to make someone else's words fit what I felt. I wrote the following in that 20 minutes, cried a few tears and felt like a HUGE weight had lifted from my shoulders - finally I could say to them what I never got the chance to at the funeral.
So tonight, as I gazed out the window at the beautiful reddish-purple sunset (after a rainy and cold day at the cemetery), I spotted my husband busy planting vegetable seeds. And I thought about the cycle of life. My grandparents sowed the seeds of love, discipline, wonder and compassion in us. They nurtured that. I felt compelled to blog what I said today at the service....
As I was thinking of something to say today, I was reminded of the words of Thornton Wilder. "The greatest tribute to the dead is not grief, but gratitude".
I can't pretend I don't miss them a lot. But whilst they are no longer here in body, I remind myself of how lucky we were to have had such kind, compassionate and thoughtful examples in our lives.
Both Nana and Grandad have left lasting impressions on so many. I'm thankful for their 'softly-softly' approach to making a difference in the world. Their quiet and humble way of setting an example. I will always be grateful for all the meals Nana cooked for me while I was working nearby where they lived in their latter years, so I had some company at lunchtimes. All the inspirational chats we had together at the table. I'm grateful for the wisdom they passed down to us and the good habits they helped us form.
I'm grateful that when my friends were trying to chase Brad Pitt look-a-likes, that I knew I'd be better off finding a man like my Grandad. I'm grateful they taught us to work hard and to think of others and try to make a difference in the world.
I'm grateful we were always welcome and always encouraged and supported.
I'll always be grateful for Nana teaching me some of her crafty skills. I'm sure she wanted to tear her hair out teaching me to crochet (which admittedly I still cannot fathom)! But she always stayed positive. I miss Nana so much when I finish a knitted item and I can't share it with her now. I miss being able to ask Grandad anything and our great debates. I miss Nana's sense of humour.
Nana and Grandad live on in us though. May we think of them often and feel blessed and be reminded of their ways. May we look back at their lives for guidance and inspiration, and make them proud.
I will be forever grateful that they showed us what love is.
In the words of Emily Dickinson; "Unable are the Loved to die, for Love is immortality".
Tonight I have a lighter heart and I feel my grandparents close to me - even if that closeness is just what they left behind in all of the lives they touched. I am truly blessed to have had such wonderful grandparents whom helped and guided so many.