This summer, I had two sad things happen. At the end of June, my sweet grandma passed away.
While it wasn't completely unexpected (she was 97, after all), it was still difficult to say goodbye to her. I'm grateful that she doesn't suffer anymore, but I will always miss her. She was a loving wife, mother and grandmother, but she was also more than that. I had the privilege of giving her eulogy, so I learned so many fun things about her. Things she hadn't told me before, such as she'd been a cheerleader in high school, a rodeo queen, a killer of rattle snakes, and more. There were also other fun details I did know, such as she'd once crashed landed a plane, shot a bear, and didn't hesitate to speak her mind. Grandma was one of my favorite people.
Here's what makes me really sad. The overwhelming craziness of the last four years and adopting our children drowned out some important things I should've been more cognizant of. One of them is keeping in touch with and visiting some of my family members more frequently. I wish we'd visited Grandma a bit more than we did. We did see her some, but not as often as I wanted to. I was trying to figure out how to put together a four generation photo shoot with her, but got sidetracked again and again, and forgot. Then, she took a turn for the worst last spring, and never recovered. Our last few visits with her ended up being in a nursing home where she wasn't always awake or aware of our presence. I wished our last moments together had been at a different place and time.
About a month and a half later, my world was rocked again when one of my older brothers went into the hospital to undergo a routine surgery. I'd been notified that he'd come out of the operation and was recovering just fine. The next morning, however, I my mom called to say that he was getting weaker, and he was going back to the operating table, but this time, his heart needed attention. Just a couple of hours later, I was told to come down to the hospital and I should be prepared to say goodbye to my brother. I was devastated, shocked, and distraught, to say the least. Seeing my brother unconscious and pale, watching my parents sob, and worrying about whether he'd make it through the night was a horrifying experience. But thankfully, God was watching out for him, and he recovered. I rejoiced when he was conscious again and we could talk with each other.
While he was recovering at home, different members of the family came to his house and helped with small things like taking him to appointments, helping with meals, and just keeping him company. When it was my turn, I had a chance to apologize to him for being an absentee sister for the last four years and not being aware of some of his struggles. We shed some tears, had a good talk about some things that needed to be said, and I hope I'll do better now.
So, if you've stuck with me thus far, I'm sure you're wondering what my point is. Let me get to it now: don't just scrapbook your relationships. Get out there and make them better. Say "I love you." If you feel distant from a family member you should feel closer to, call or visit them. Remember that the blessing of family is a precious gift. Life can change quickly, and you may lose the chance to be with someone you love or say something important.
I've been given two amazing blessings that I hope to make the most out of in 2011. The first is that I was given a big box of my late grandma's pictures. I've been charged with scanning them, making copies for my siblings, cousins, and other relatives. While I'll still miss my grandma, working with her pictures will help me feel closer and more connected to her. It will also give me a chance to teach my own children about her and how much I loved her. Also, since my brother was given a second chance, I have opportunities to build my relationship with him, as well as my other family members. For all this, I am thankful.