The holidays are supposed to be joyful. This year was a little harder. My grandmother passed away just before Christmas. I've been on a roller coaster of emotions.
I've had three other grandparents already pass away. The first time I was eight years old. I didn't realize it at the time, but she was only 60 years old. I remember fleeting images and the situation being hard on the family. I was sad, but I didn't really feel its impact on me until I got older.
The second time was sudden when I was fifteen. My grandfather was in his early 70s. It was a shock and more difficult to deal with. I was old enough to appreciate the gravity of the situation. I remember missing school and I remember telling my mom in a restaurant after the funeral that I didn't feel like I could go back to school. I did go back. Life goes on.
The third time I was twenty and in college. My other grandfather had been ill for a while. We knew it was coming. We visited him in the hospital and I remember how awful I felt seeing him not as his strong tall self. I was sad, but he was 80 and I remember being comforted that I felt that was a pretty long life, especially for a man.
Why is it that this time, my life feels really blue, even though my grandmother was 91? That is, by all logic, an excellent length of life. I should be comforted by that.
I'm sure the time of year makes the feelings more magnified. Everyone else around you is joyous and spending good times with family and friends. We did get to see family, but it was such a sad occasion.
I wonder, too, if it is the realization that the older generation is gone. The oldest generation in my life now is that of my parents' generation. Maybe deep down I realize I am not a grandchild anymore. Maybe I'm mourning my childhood. I shouldn't be, it is still there in my memories. Some of it is in my parents', aunts', uncles' and cousins' memories. But a little bit of that long ago time is gone.
Grandma kept us all together as a family. The last 10 years we've had yearly treks to Grandma's on Memorial Day weekends. Not every cousin made it, but the aunts and uncles usually did. My cousins brought their kids and our kids know their second cousins like they were first cousins. Grandma, though, is who we centered around. Maybe I'm worried it won't continue.
I guess if I want it to, I should help organize us together. But, will I let my life and work and excuses get in the way? I don't know, only time will tell. My cousins on the other side of the family haven't seen each other much. I always put it down to us being more worldly and farther flung than perhaps the other side, making it harder to gather. But I think there's something to be said about the oldest generation providing a place where we can all gather on a home turf.
Life goes on. My son was pretty perceptive. Some of his concerns after the funeral was about him understanding that we might not see his second cousins on a yearly basis and he told me as much. They all had a nice time swimming at the hotel together. They were really sweet playing together at the luncheon after. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed watching them have their little adventures, like us cousins used to do on the farm.
In the meantime, I won't berate myself for continuing to feel a bit blue in this cold, wintry season.
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