Wednesday of last week marked the one year anniversary of my paternal grandmother’s death. I didn’t remember the anniversary until the following day—it came to me suddenly on my way home from work. Even though I had spoken to my dad on the phone that Wednesday evening, he didn’t bring mention it; he later told me that he didn’t want me to feel bad for not remembering.
Thanks to my sister’s April 2013 wedding in Nigeria, my dad saw his mom six months before her death, which I’m thankful for because prior to that, he visited Nigeria in 2006. Before we went to Nigeria last year, he had said that he knew it may be the last time he’d see his mom, based on her age and the infrequency of his visits to Nigeria. He made sure to spend time with her and looking at pictures of the two of them from April of last year made me emotional because the love and care my dad had for his mom showed with every shot we captured.
Although I didn’t know her as well as I wish I could have known her, I admire my grandma: she was delicate-looking, yet had an inner strength that must have been toughened as she dealt with the losses of her husband some 26 years before her, not to mention the loss of adult children, step children and grandchildren (unfortunately plural in all cases)—my dad was glad that she wouldn’t have to witness any more loss.
She also had a physical stamina: although she looked like a strong wind would blow her away, she was still navigating the steep steps in her house well into her 90s. I’m also thankful that she never lost her mental quickness: during family meetings or discussions some people wouldn’t give her much credit but she always knew what was going on and her grasp of the issue and ability to explain it was spot-on and she would draw sensible conclusions and show wisdom. She was a good judge of character. She had such a cute smile, and she was feminine in that she always wanted to look her best if we were snapping pictures—if we snapped her picture while she felt she wasn’t dressed nicely, she would go and change, even in her 90s. She marveled at technology: it was fun to see the delight on her face when we’d show her the picture of her that we had taken seconds earlier with a digital camera—she’d just shake her head.
May my beloved grandma continue to rest in peace. Although I may not share her delicate appearance, I would be honoured to have her strength of character, sharp mind, and wisdom.
While absence can make the heart grow fonder, when you’ve lived apart from your extended family for most of your life, it’s easy not to think of them too often, unfortunately. In my grandma’s case I have to admit that I didn’t think about her too many times in this past year, though I will strive to use the anniversary of her death to reflect on her life. Last year, I shared about the challenges of staying close to family members who are far away. There were some good comments there and it’s definitely not too late to join the conversation!