by Erin Ipjian
This week has been tough. My lovely grandmother passed away on Thursday at the age of 96. She was amazing. Right up until a few months ago, when a cascade of events began that ultimately led to her passing, she lived independently. With the help of her children, she lived on her own, cooked and prepared her own meals. She was engaged with the world, stayed on top of current events, and never stopped learning. She read books on her kindle until she couldn’t see the text anymore. She spent most of her time with or talking about her beloved family.
She, along with my late grandfather, was a major part of the village that raised me. On days when my parents both worked, they would pick me up from school and bring me home or to any activity I had that day, often ice skating lessons. On days I had skating, she and my grandfather would watch from behind the glass and he’d comment on my “triple lindies” (not the technical term :)) She always supported me, through all sorts of career and life transitions.
She lived through a lot - immigrating to the US from Northern Ireland when she was 6, losing her mom when she was 11, the Great Depression, World War Two, and the untimely deaths of two of her grandchildren. All these experiences made her who she was - incredibly resilient and completely in love with being with her family.
I feel so fortunate that she was a part of my daughters’ lives. She would sit with them for hours, totally invested in whatever fantasy world or game they had conjured up that day. My oldest daughter loved to talk with her about her childhood home in Ireland, how - as a little girl - she would pick buttercups to give to her mom, wash her doll’s clothes in the brook by her home, and help her mother churn butter to sell in town.
So, for right now, my practice is to make space for my grief and try to do the same for my girls. It sits like a dull ache at the center of my chest. And then there are moments where an understanding emerges — that my grandmother’s life and her relationship with me and my daughters was a gift. And part of what makes that gift so precious is that it can’t last forever, at least in a physical sense. ❤️