Last Thursday, my grandma in Costa Rica passed away. My brother and I saw my mom that evening to see how she was holding up. She was doing a lot better than I thought she would. My grandma had lived a long interesting life, so you could make the argument that it wasn’t as tragic as if someone younger had passed.
Whenever I would go to Costa Rica and see her and my grandpa, it was always in the back of my mind this might be the last time I would see them again. This is a habit I developed with my paternal grandfather, Pope, who I have written about before.
In my opinion, it’s not morbid to have that thought, just functional. They were getting up there in age, and I didn’t visit them every year. But when you think, this could be the last time I see this person; it does make you a little more patient, a little less defensive.
Also, I was glad that my son and I had recently spent three months with her, and they got to know each other pretty well. We made a lot of fond memories during that time.
So since my mom seemed to be doing okay, I felt better.
However, the following day my aunt sent me a photo of my grandpa weeping over Grandma in an open casket, and I lost it. His face was pinched up with grief. Having spent time with them both over the years, I knew it was the loss of his partner but also tinged with regret for not being kinder over the years.
It choked me up, and I was a wreck all day. I went from feeling “Wow, I’ll miss my Grandma” to being completely inconsolable.
While I know many attribute what I am about to say to toxic positivity, I try to look for meaning in everything. I’m not content to feel bad and have nothing to show for it. Being utterly depressed felt okay if I could somehow mine something from it.
At face value, not ending up in a position of regret seemed like a good takeaway. Live and treat those that mean the most to me in a way that I wouldn’t feel remorse for my actions. That photo seemed like a good reminder.
But then I think when anyone dies, it’s a good time to look at those around you and love them a little more. So I hugged my wife and son a little more.
A few blog posts ago, I mentioned how I have been in a funk lately, but my problems are essentially temporary, especially comparing them to death… well, that seems much more final. So I was snapped out of my slump. I was grateful that this situation gave me some perspective.
I realized that my cousin in Costa Rica probably took that photo, and out of all my cousins, she has lived there and supported our aging grandparents the most. So I thanked her for it. She, in turn, told me that she always thought I was Grandma’s favorite, which made me start crying all over again.
When I look at my grandparents, I can see how their personality traits mingle together to create my mom—the same with my dad and his parents. And I being the sum of their traits, see my grandparents in me.
My grandma would love to tell stories, sometimes tall tales. She could be hilarious. She desired to be the center of attention. She felt the need to be manipulative at times. When we chatted late at night, she would occasionally flash me a devious smile. She would be in on the joke like she was above it all. I saw how she would get after others, but she was patient and sweet to me. But I understand the stories, the desire, the need, and the devious smile because they are funneled down to become a part of me.
So though I lost someone that I loved dearly, I like to think that parts of her live on.