Sunday, October 4, 2009

Abiding Love

So, I'm guessing you noticed last week's post never came. I'm sorry. I sat down to write it every day, but it just wouldn't come. If it's any consolation (because I know a week without a post from me is just so difficult for you to endure), I think it was good for me to have a week off. Thanks for the permission, Jen!

This is a post I've been writing in my head for a while, not sure when to post it. But it's what I need to express today, so it's what you're getting today.

It's inspired by my grandma. One of the greatest people to ever live on this earth. Honestly. I know many of you know her and can attest to that. And I'm sorry to those of you who don't, because she was truly one of life's gems.

For a while now, I've been meaning to write her a letter telling her what an inspiration and example she's been for me in so many ways.

She passed away yesterday morning. I never got around to writing that letter. I know she knows how I feel about her, but I still wish I'd sent it. So, here are a couple things that letter would have contained. Except that I'm going to write it to you, and not to her because that would be weird.

My grandma lived a life of abundant joy. I've been contemplating the 'why' behind that for a while now. It was definitely a combination of many things. But a couple of them stuck out as major sources, to me at least.

One of the first things I realized when I thought about it, is that her house is always full of people. Always. I don't think I've ever gone to visit her and been the only one there. Usually, someone(s) is already there when I arrive, more people show up while I'm coming, and even more are expected after I leave.

The reason for that is simple, everyone who knows Grandma wants to be around her. She exudes love for all. I'm pretty sure she has over 50 grandchildren and I have no idea how many great-grandchildren. A lot. But she somehow kept up with everyone. And genuinely cared about everyone. Even though my children are young, they talk about her frequently because she makes such an impression. And they adore her.

And that's why she was constantly surrounded by people. She made everyone feel loved, needed, and important. She always listened to everything I had to say, regardless of its true merit. It mattered to her because I mattered to her.

That is a quality I will strive my whole life to obtain. I think it came naturally to her. It's just the kind of person she was. But I learned from watching her that her selflessness in putting other's interests first actually brought her joy. So, even though I sometimes feel that I have to take care of myself first in order to ensure happiness, that isn't necessarily true. She found great joy in caring for others.

The other thing I want to share is what the title is about today. I guess it's kind of related to what I just talked about because it's about love as well. Maybe I could have just summed this whole post up by telling you that the best route to abiding joy is simply to fill your life with love.

But the love between my grandma and grandpa is so profound, I'm going to share it with you. Because it will bless your life the way it's blessed mine.

I have never witnessed a deeper, purer love than the love between them. They were always saying the sweetest things to and about each other. But I want to illustrate their love with one story that my mom recently shared with me.

This happened after my parents were married, but before I was born. I hope I get all the details correct. My grandma had been telling my mom how much she was looking forward to attending her 50th high school reunion. When she came to visit my mom shortly after the date, my mom eagerly asked her how it was.

She hadn't made it.

My grandpa had gone somewhere, I think to the store, and had lost track of time and didn't return home in time to go to the reunion. Shocked, my mom asked my grandma how mad she was at grandpa.

Not at all. She said she knew he hadn't done it on purpose, or to hurt her. If my memory is correct, she didn't even talk to him about it.

I couldn't believe it when my mom related this to me. What an example of true love! On both of their parts. She trusted in my grandpa's love enough to overlook her cause for hurt. And she loved him enough to instantly forgive him for his oversight.

I think about all the times I've felt the need to "punish" HH for some oversight on his part by staying mad at him for a long time. Now, I try to remember my grandma and just trust in that fact that I know HH never desires to hurt me. So, there's no need to be mad and hold a grudge.

I'm not at my grandma's level of love and forgiveness yet. But I'm closer because of her example. It hadn't really occurred to me that choosing to not be mad at all was an option. But there's no joy in choosing the mad option.

Really, I'm not surprised that is the choice my grandma made. To develop a love as strong as theirs, I'm sure they didn't waste much time, if any, being upset with each other. Instead they built each other up with loving compliments and support. They are as unified as any couple could possibly be. And what greater joy can anyone have than to have that kind of love?

When my grandpa passed away last December, I hurt for my grandma the most. Because I knew that I couldn't even imagine the pain she felt at living each day without him right by her side. He had been unwell for a while and she had tirelessly cared for him. She was his greatest cheerleader and stayed by him even when she was unwell herself.

And so, I wondered how she found the strength to wake up each morning and go on without him there. But she is the strongest person I've ever known and she knew she'd be with him again someday. Those are details for another post, though.

The point is, she did get up every day and she did keep going because of her love for her children. She fought hard. Harder than was really possible. She even made a couple miraculous recoveries. But her time to rest has finally come. And I am overjoyed to know that she is reunited with my grandpa, the love of her eternal life.

I miss her. So terribly much. But I will be forever grateful for the legacy she left, for the example she set, and for the amazing difference for good she made in my life.


Linda said...

Very well said - thanks, Cheryl.

Meg said...

I love that story- thanks for reminding me of it. And thanks for explaining how I can apply it to my marriage, because up til now I just thought that Grandma was just superhuman to not be angry with Grandpa. I love you!

Melissa said...

Thank you Cheryl. You know, I never realized it, but you are right. I don't think we ever visited Grandma's without there being at least one other person there--usually more. And I remember always getting to hear about the guests who had been there just before and who all was expected later.
Wow. To be so loved and admired.
Your post is beautiful.

Amy said...

I've never heard that story before, but it totally sounds just like Grandma. Thanks for this beautiful tribute to her. I completely agree and I love how you put it so beautifully.

Melanie said...

Has anyone ever told you that you're a terrific writer? Thank you so have uplifted my heart. I love you.

Spencer and Kimberly said...

I'm sorry to hear about your grandma passing away. That was a beautiful tribute to her and her wonderful example. Thanks for sharing!