There is something very special about grandmothers. They have the ability to hold the attention and love of an entire family without feeling the pressure and anxiety that a mother may feel. They simply stop caring what other people think and began doing exactly what was right for them. They are confident, ballsy and independent. They share their opinions without question and share their love with ease.
I was very blessed in the grandmother department as I had two very different ladies influence my life greatly.
My father's mother (Nan Lush) was a devout Catholic who was strict and often stern with her own children yet she was a huge hoot to her grandchildren. She would often laugh that squeaky laugh and tell us the most fascinating stories about the days when she raised her 9 kids without running water or electricity. The stories of sitting around an old wood stove for heat while telling stories and singing songs for entertainment. As my grandfather worked far away she essentially raised her children alone and she lived a long life in the pride of those children. When she died last year at the age of 91 an era came to a close. her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren communicated her death via iPhones and Facebook. We live in a world of change and affluence because of the sacrifices that her generation made and we are eternally grateful for that. She was the martyr of our family and as sad as her death was, it was a reason to rejoice. She had come full circle in her life and enabled her daughters and grand-daughters to have a life that she could only dream of when she was younger.
As her grandson, I always felt that I was her favourite but I think she made us all feel that way. That is what grandmothers do.
My mothers Mom (Nan Brett) was the polar opposite of my fathers mother but no less as wonderful. She was a woman that was so far removed from today's world it is crazy. She lived her entire 92 years without ever smoking, dancing, drinking, or ever going to a movie. I found this to be hilarious and I often teased her about it. I would ask her to go to the movies with me and she would say "Oh Jason, go on with your foolishness. Now why would I ever go there?" She didn't see the need in doing anything that didn't have a function. You would think that a life like that would be a life without joy but she proved that her life was indeed full of joy. She raised 12 children in a very strict conservative Protestant home. She cooked every meal from scratch and fed my grandfather every meal until the day that he died. She would putter around the house making sure everyone had eaten and was full and then she would stop for a moment, eat and then clean up every crumb. She had a moment each night before she went to bed, to reflect on her day, give thanks and then rest before she got up and did it all again.
As a child I was amazed at her generosity. She literally gave until she couldn't give anymore. She would never turn away a soul who asked for anything she could offer.
As she grew older and my grandfather had passed she would spend more and more time with my parents at their home here in Newfoundland and I visited her often. She would sit in her recliner and slip me $20, tell me not to buy beer and then laugh at me when I would tell her how drunk I was going to get. She would just laugh and shake in her chair.
She never left this island in her entire life and at times we would talk about dreams and where she might go. San Francisco was her dream. She never got there. She died peacefully with her children gathered around her. At the moment she died I was 300kms away at my parents house and the lights flickered. I knew what had just happened. I knew the phone was going to ring soon and it would be my mom to tell me that she had died. We had all been expecting it.
The phone rang and indeed Nan had died. She, in her final moments looked at my mom and her other children and took her last breath. And that was that. She was gone. I grieved alone that night and I cried like I didn't think I could. She was old and it was her time but there was something about her that gave me peace. I called my sister and bother to let them know what had happened. It seemed we were all at peace and Nan was at rest. I really wasn't at peace. I felt guilty that I wasn't there with her. I felt that she wanted me there and that our special bond had been broken and I failed her. I remember laying back on the sofa in my parents family room, tears were rolling down my face and I asked her out loud if she could hear me. There was a flicker in the light and it was then that I realized that she had been with me all the time. The bond was not broken. She did indeed tell me that she had passed and she would indeed be with me always.
My mom laughs at me when I tell her about how her mom answers my questions like my own private 8ball, but its true. When I am troubled and trying to figure something out a light will turn on or off. When I find myself driving and talking to myself, or to her looking for advice, a street light will come on or go off. I have been walking silently, thinking to myself and a light will flicker and catch my eye. Thats my nan. Some people doubt what I say is true but those who believe me have seen it themselves. Nan does not do this for entertainment at parties, she does this to help me get through this life. Sometime I look up to the sky at night and ask her to tell me what to do. I ask her to help me even though I already know what I have to do. Then I will see a shooting star. Thats my nan. She was always there when I needed her when she was alive and I take so much comfort in knowing that she is with me now.
Her energy is as strong today as it was when we were kids. She was a marvel of womanhood. Both of my nans were. They were the women of a different generation, a generation not forgotten.
Tonight under the full moon that my Nan Lush loved so much I look up at the light and see two fantastic woman. Two woman that made my life possible and made my life wonderful. All I need to feel the love of these ladies is the light of the moon and the flicker of a star.