A Tribute to my Grandmother

December 3rd, 2012

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Last week, on Monday night, my dear Grandmother passed away. I want to dedicate this post to her, to everything she meant to me, and to the reflections I've had following her passing.


In thinking of her and evoking all the memories I have of the times we shared, I realize once again, how incredibly important it is to bring quality and love when we are in the presence of our family, our friends and ultimately every human being.

My grandmother was French, so I didn't see her very often, I grew up in Ecuador and then moved to the US, so she and I had always been separated by a large ocean of distance. However, I feel, with great relief that every moment I shared in her presence was filled with joy, complicity and laughter; I feel like even though the quantity of time we spent together was short, the quality of it was great.

My mom always says very wisely, that we have to make sure we enjoy and cherish our loved ones while they are alive, so as not to have any regrets, guilt and unsolved resentments when they leave the physical plane. And I feel that I did that with my grandma. I was not very good at keeping in touch, that is my only regret...

I remember climbing in her bed when I was a little girl and she was visiting us in Ecuador; or making my first crèche for Christmas with her, she had many ideas to make it unique; or the times as a teenager when we would stroll the French village markets arm in arm, trying on clothes and funny hats. I remember baking in her kitchen and eating her delicious meals. So many rich memories of love and companionship come to me now and bring tears to my eyes.

My grandma wasn't perfect, but then again, nobody is, and she did what she could with the tools she had, which is what we all do. I always loved her just as she was and saw in her mostly her qualities: she was full of life and determination, she had a very young spirit and believed every age had its charm (and she proved it), she never let herself go, she was vibrant, smart, beautiful and brave!

I remember she started piano and oil painting lessons in her 80s! She was a living example that learning never ends, unless we decide to stop it. Maybe that is why her mind was sharp till the last day.

I recall when, as a teenager I told her I did not want to have kids because I was disillusioned with the state of the world, and she (a mother of 6) told me that no matter how dark the circumstances look there is always a light at the other side of the tunnel and we have to focus on it, even when we can't see it. For someone who was a young mother when her husband went to war, who lived through the German occupation of WW2, and who lost 2 of her children tragically, she surely knew how dark life can get, but she always stood tall and kept going!

I am thankful for all the years I shared with her, she passed at 96 after a long and full life and although the moments we were together were scattered through time and distance, they were wonderful. She always lived in my heart and will continue to do for as long as I live.

Living physically away from people we love can be very hard, everyone handles the distance differently, but loosing someone who is far away is even harder. Our everyday routine is unchanged, the loss seems unreal, and we have to digest it slowly, we have to find some closure on our own. My relief is, again, knowing that the times we shared where filled with high quality.

Some of the reflections I wanted to share and the things I want to remember following this loss are:

  • If we bring love, acceptance and forgiveness to the people around us, we will have no regrets when they leave.
  • The most important is the quality of the time we spend with someone, not the quantity.
  • The effort of keeping in touch with our loved ones is worth it, and we need to carve the time for it.
  • It is important to find ways to mourn at the distance, either by crying our eyes out, taking a day off to rest, calling your friends to talk about it, looking at pictures, writing letters, etc. We need to let the pain flow so that it leaves our body eventually, instead of locking it in our hearts.
  • Enjoy your loved ones while you have them, dedicate them your full attention when you are with them!

I know the last point is probably easier to do with someone who lives far and you seldom see than with someone that you see every day and therefore have more opportunities for conflict. However, this practice applies to everyone around you and it is worth doing, no matter the effort it takes. Be fully in their presence when you are together and see them always through the eyes of love, no matter what the circumstances are.

I recently shared a little card on Facebook that I liked very much and I want to copy it here: The card has the image of two elderly parents and it says:

"Parents are not eternal, call them, visit them, bring them your kids, invite them for dinner, get them their favorite treat, hug them and laugh with them. If necessary let them talk and listen to them lovingly and patiently, tomorrow might be too late."

This is not only true with elderly parents but with everybody we love, no matter their age, we don't know how long they will be with us, so start today bringing quality to the time you spend with them.

Have a great week!


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