Monday, February 24, 2014

A One Hour Chat Question 

I saw this image on facebook a week or two ago....and burst into tears.  Thankfully, I have the world's best sons.  They know their mama well:  she often cries for no apparent reason and the best medicine for her is a hug, a nuzzle, a cuddle.  Their medicine was perfect, then I explained why I cried.

When I was 24, my grandmother, mom and I were in a very serious, tragic car accident. Although I sustained some very serious physical injuries, I survived, but my grandmother didn't.  Just shy of 71 years old, she was whisked from all of us who loved her...who counted on her holding us together and expected many more years of her smile, support, and love. 

In a tragedy such as this, when someone is taken so suddenly, everyone is shocked.  There were no last goodbyes when Grandma died.  I fell asleep in the predawn hours of our road trip, planning on catching up on some sleep I had missed while visiting friends and family between semesters.  To be honest, I wasn't "feeling the love" for Grandma right then.  I was a little put-off that grandma was tagging along.  I had wanted this to be just a trip with my mom; Grandma was tagging along to visit her sister, who lived just an hour south of my destination. Grandma promised she wouldn't get in the way, saying that she would just sit in the back, nap, and stay out of our way as mom helped me get settled for my final semester of graduate school.

Instead, just an hour or so into our trip, I woke up in extreme pain screaming like a 4-year-old for her mommy and grandma.  

So, that is the back story for my answer to this easily-asked, "Who from the past or present would you sit on this bench with and talk?" 

I don't need to speak with Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, or any other person from history.  There are no  bigger-than-life stars or media personalities currently alive that I would give that hour to when I could have another hour with my Grandma. And yes, I would choose an hour with my grandmother over Jesus. I know God would forgive me for this choice.

I would sit for an hour with my grandmother.  I would hold her hand, and ask her to tell me about heaven.  AH! to hear her voice, "Hi, honey!" I would ask her all about her life again.  I want to hear her stories about growing up.  I would ask her for her advice about living through the hard times of life -- she certainly had her share of them -- and how she coped and came out stronger. How do I mama these boys to manhood, Grandma?  For the love of all that is good, I would ask her for our family recipes.  How can I be so Italian and have no family sugo recipe?! {To be fair, it was my grandfather who was a professional chef, and Grandma was quite sick as a child, so maybe she never got cooking lessons, but she must've overheard one good Italian recipe to pass on!}  Oooh, what I wouldn't do to hear a little Italian-English again. (I know it would be too much to ask to hear the banter between her and her sisters -- my great aunts -- in English and Italian.) I would apologize for taking for granted that she was always there during my youth (we lived just about 10 minutes or so from her house).  I would apologize for being angry she was coming with us.  I'm pretty sure I would need two or three {dozen} boxes of tissue.

I have a stack of notes and cards she sent to me over the years -- mostly during my college and grad school years.  Since I cannot really have an hour with her this side of heaven, I sometimes take them out, look at her quirky handwriting, and read her messages of unconditional love to me.These notes still provide me with the encouragement I need somedays.  You can always benefit from the unconditional love and support of a grandmother.

To my sons, you have no greater fan than a grandmother!  They will love you when you do stupid things and smart things.  They will cheer you on like you are a Hollywood star when you are in a play or on stage reciting a poem. Love these women you are honored to call Grandma or Nana.

Footnote: There was a horrible, weather related car accident this past week in my community in which a little 6 year old girl was killed on the way to her ballet class.  While I did not now the little girl, I know many people who did, and have grieved with them.  Maddi's accident brought up many of the emotions that I carry with me about my car accident. {Yes, I've had counseling.} I needed to write -- and actually press 'publish' for once -- to help me process the tragedy this week.

I do want to say this:  God does use tragedies for good.  At least, that is my experience.  My horrible accident threw me in a totally different direction in life -- which eventually lead to meeting my husband, getting married, and finding my way back into God's arms, with three little monsters in tow.  Never would I have chosen that a deadly car accident be the beginning of a string of life experiences leading to meeting the love of my life.  How extreme good can come from loss is part of the mystery of life, though, that we do not get to see this side of heaven.  I would never try to minimize the pain or tragedy of anyone's loss, but I do think that there is some eternal good that God can accomplish in all tragedy and sorrow that we experience in life -- if we trust Him and let Him.

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