Having spent the first 13 years of his life with her part of his daily life, I wondered how my kiddo was going to take the news of her passing.
His peaceful response made me smile: “Mom, remember what she always used to say to us: ‘Don’t cry for me when I’m gone.’”
I don’t know how many hundreds of times we heard Gramma say these words in the last 10 years — a sentiment usually accompanied by downcast eyes, a subtle shake of her head, and that not-so-subtle click of her tongue.
Her world was closing in on her, getting smaller every day.
It was increasingly difficult to discern words and intentions directed at her—
she could “hear you but not understand you.”
Without a driver’s license, she felt like a prisoner—a “bull in a china closet.”
Her independent spirit was raging, angst growing with every offer of help because she wanted to “do it myself.”
Her only solace…
Oh, and my son and their games…
When I close my eyes, I can still hear them howling over the Dirty Marbles board at the dining room table.
When the dementia started…
my husband, then 7-year-old son, and I were her caregivers and had front row seats to one of the most heartbreaking journeys one can witness—the slow disappearance of the person you love.
Anyone who has been on this journey knows that the grief begins long before they take their last breath; and I think that is why our little family has spent the last few weeks laughing more than crying.
We quickly realized we have ample opportunity
to remember her funny quirks.
Why is that, you ask? Well, because I spent the better part of 36 years listening to and watching this woman live her life, and I often hear her in my words and recognize her in my everyday tasking.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of Gramma-isms…
She was a funny character—one that will never
disappear completely from my story.
As I’m getting ready to write Upside-Down Messenger and share the non-highlight-reel details of my messenger journey, I’m thinking a lot about how she and my dad heavily influenced my thoughts and behavior, forming a hefty portion of the person I am today. They are both largely responsible for some of my greatest strengths, as well as some of my deepest wounds and limiting stories. When I look back at some of my brightest and darkest moments, both of them played a huge part in my story, whether they were present for those moments or not.
Because I know the power of story—how it illuminates, informs, inspires, and invites—I think it would be wise to bring this character along with us over the next few months as I write the next book, develop some new online courses to help others move from Character to Co-Author of their story, and launch the next expression of my work in the world.
She said, “Don’t cry for me when I’m gone,”
and I’m going to do that and better:
who are working with characters like this one in their story…
I’ve enlisted the memories of family members to capture as many Gramma-isms as we can remember, and we have been giggling together as her voice seems to blow by on The Wind.
I know she’s here, and I’m smiling as I invite her to be one of my muses
for this next leg of my journey because, as you’ll see,
she was clearly a muse for its beginning.
Isn’t it crazy to think that someday, your kids and grandkids will be giggling and, in my case, probably rolling their eyes as they remember your quirks? What do you hope they will be hearing on The Wind when they remember you?
For those of you who are aspiring authors, feeling angsty about having to share some of the other characters’ stories in order to share your own, you could bet your butt that I am right there with you in the questions right now: