I was sitting with my 92-year old grandmother last week which is the highlight of my year so far. A few years ago she lost her husband and my grandfather, Irwin, and it’s still taking time to process.
Irwin, my most lovable and stubborn grandfather, gave me the DNA to travel and see what else is out there. He was a merchant marine and traveled the world over many times. My grandparents have been married for over 70 years and were inseparable.
Just to be in my grandmother’s presence was extremely moving – to hold her soft hands and feel her chipped pink nail polish and to hear her broken sentences because she just can’t remember as much.
We sat in a corner of her elderly care home on a overly plush suede brown couch. She was used to her new home, I was not.
The television was on as it is every day, and it was as loud it could be. My grandmother could tell I was bothered by this and she replied, “they have the TV on for us and they think I’m watching it but I’m not. I’m in my head and in my memories of how good life was. My memories are what are getting me through”.
I had to choke back tears.
I asked her what memories were most precious to her and she replied, “your grandfather would take me all over the world and travel to all those beautiful places (insert a heavy New York accent), and I loved you kids so much. Those are my memories.”
She carried on but kept saying, “I live in my memories and that’s the life I have now”.
This conversation got me thinking about my own life, what family I’ve created for myself and what memories I’m creating or will create that will get me through.
I guess that’s the power of elders or grandparents – they can shift what life means by just having a conversation with you.
This chat with my grandmother inspired a new mantra and it’s helping bring more meaning and direction to life…
What memories am I creating for my life?
What memories will hold me when there’s no one else there?
My conversation with her was like a reverse engineering process in how I’m already thinking about the end, and what I want to have or create now so life is rich, cherished or as memorable as possible.
April 17, 2023