Today is the first birthday my grandma will miss. She would have been 81-years-old.
Last year I know my family wondered if we were celebrating her final birthday with us, but we hoped that we'd be joining her for her 81st this year. I choose this day to remember even though it's very hard and I miss her very much! She was a fantastic grandmother who loved me and my family well.
As I visited other bloggers today I saw many remembrances of our soldiers who have served, are serving or are waiting to serve. It brought to mind the last trip my grandmother ever took in 2005 to visit my parents and my family in Virginia.
Late one afternoon I took Grandma down to see the monuments which she had never visited. I thought it would be a great treat for her and it was, but I never imagined what a favored memory it would be for me.
We saw it all. I knew she'd never get back to Washington DC so we borrowed a wheelchair and chauffeured her around to all the monuments. When we got to the WWII monument we first went to the Atlantic side, then the Pacific side. Grandma began sharing where her brothers and Grandpa has been stationed. She pointed to the places of battles on the wall and would name our relatives who had been involved. Grandma was not one for history or for sharing her feelings, but that day she got teary and shared how much she worried about her brothers while they were serving. I marvelled at the thought that if my grandfather had not survived that I wouldn't even exist. The monument became even more precious to me.
We moved on down the mall toward the Lincoln Monument, but Grandma didn't want to miss seeing the Vietnam wall. There was a young man who had been in school with my mom and her siblings. His parents still resided in the small town in which we all grew up. We found his name. Grandma broke down crying which surprised me. She said that when he died the whole community felt it.
There were veterans there that day passing out paper that you could lay across a name to create a rubbing. Grandma said she wanted to create a rubbing and send it to this soldier's mother since "she'll never be able to see it." This was very unlike Grandma, but it was important to her. I saw her in a different way that day and the memory of it is very precious.
This last picture depicts the heart of my grandma. She loved her grandkids and great-grandkids. She would share with any friend or stranger something about one of her own. She was proud of us all! I remember Ashley calling home from college just a few weeks after Grandma died last November. She said, "Mom, the only person in whole world who I could tell anything to is gone. What am I going to do?" I thought, "I know exactly what you mean." I had lost her too. Grandma loved you no matter what "state" you were in; she just loved you unconditionally. What a gift!
So today I choose to remember and be thankful for the men and women who have served our country. If you are one of them, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.
I choose to remember a woman who loved me well. Her strength and stubbornness live on in me, but I also hope my grandchildren (someday) will feel the same way she made me feel - loved, no matter what.
Love you back, Grandma!