A couple weeks ago, Ryan and I flew back to my home state of California, for a beach weekend in Santa Cruz. There was a greater purpose for this celebration: to celebrate the very important, precious life of my grandmother. She wanted to gather the family by the beach and watch the dolphins (which we did, and they were spectacular).
What made this trip particularly "bittersweet", was the fact that it was not only a gathering to celebrate, but also to say goodbye. Just 8 short weeks ago my grandmother was leading a swim class and singing in the choir she adores (she has a lovely voice, I consider her to sing as beautifully as her favorite star, Judy Garland--I think she looks a bit like her, too). Then, she was shockingly diagnosed with a devestating terminal illness, given little time to live.
My stylish grandmother is quite the social butterfly, and has unbelievable talent when it comes to baking, entertaining, decorating, painting, crocheting, sewing...she made my sister Julia & I beautiful dresses, and giant Raggedy Ann Dolls. She and I recently discussed how much we love to watch Martha Stewart, and enjoy her cook books.
Filled with the sweetest memories of holidays spent with her and my grandfather, it was difficult to imagine how I would go about my life without her in it--but far more difficult to imagine how my grandfather, father and uncle will go about living without her. She is such an important part of all our lives. She and I have always had a special bond, ever since I was little. Celebrating the happiest day of my life (my wedding day) together with her, literally had us both glowing.
(wedding photos property of Miki & Sonja Photography--two of the most BRILLIANT wedding photographers you will ever come across).
I consider it the greatest compliment when I am told that I look like her. She is so very beautiful in my eyes, inside and out.
Over 62 years have passed since she and my precious grandfather were married, and they still look like such the suave couple.
It is so very, very important to celebrate the lives of those around us, and this particular weekend when we gathered it reminded me of the importance to celebrate the lives of children of all ages.
It coincidentally was on my grandmother's 81st birthday (she ended up back in the hospital within hours of arrival to the beach house, therefore she couldn't enjoy the weekend we all dreamed of--so we all gathered near her by her bedside instead), that I was given the blessed opportunity to hold her in my arms one last time, to embrace her, talk with her, learn from her, listen to her, and tell her how much I love her.
My grandfather, who I haven't mentioned much in this post, is actually the inspiration for all of this--he wrote the greatest birthday wish, ever.
His love, tenderness, care and strongest love for my grandmother, was what brought us all to tears. He never left her bedside, read the Bible to her for comfort, and had unbelievable strength. This is the marriage partnership we all dream of. And I am a romantic through and through, and boy, apparently my grandfather is too:
My grandmother is resting at home in the loving care of my grandfather, with much love and support from my uncle, aunt, my father and mother, with the help of hospice now too.
She did make a special request: to see the dolphins. We all saw them when she was taken to the hospital. My uncle, aunt and grandfather are going to do whatever it takes to make that dream a reality. She raised her family in a small California town called "Tranquility", and I snapped a shot of the sign on the side of their house, which I found fitting for my wishes for her now. I hope she experiences tranquility when she sees the dolphins. She said, in her hospital bed, she considers them "lucky."
While my grandmother doesn't have a computer and won't see this post, I will call her tomorrow, tell her I love her, and thank her for her love, courage, strength, grace, and the greatest gift she blessed me with--the gift of life.
And that, is something to celebrate.--Kate