When I was 10 my maternal grandmother died. Despite all of the time I spent with my grandparents as a child I have very few memories of my grandmother. Most of my memories are of the circumstances surrounding her decline and eventual death. She was sick for a long time. I remember when my grandfather cleared out the dining room furniture to fit in a specialized hospital bed and I remember later visiting my grandmother at the hospital. It was all very strange and unfamiliar. I also remember our first visit to their house after her death. Most of all, I remember crying at her funeral. I was surrounded by people I had known all my life, mourning a matriarch they had known for all of theirs. I cried that day not for what I had lost, but for what I had never had. I cried because I wasn’t sad; there was no piece of my heart missing. I cried for them and I cried for not being able to understand their heartbreak. What a strange feeling to have.
Shortly after her death my grandfather sold the house (which she shared with three of his children and their families) and moved over a 1,000 miles away. He needed a change in environment and I completely understood. We went to visit him one year, and though his health was starting to fail him, he seemed to be learning how to live his own life again. I was hopeful and I was happy for him.
Soon, he remarried. He traveled back to his children and invited both families to become one. His new wife, Marie, seemed to be a wonderful person and they made each other laugh. It was beautiful to see. She had also lost her previous spouse and I hoped to myself they could help each other work through their recent losses. It seems like they did. Life went on and time continued to pass.
As my grandfather’s health worsened over the years, Marie was by his side. She managed her health and his. Her children supported my grandfather when his own children were unable to make the trip. I found myself hoping that was the type of love he had shared with my grandmother. If not, I was certainly glad he had found Marie. My grandfather died this past year, with his loving wife by his side. It had been nearly 20 years since my grandmother’s death. 20 years he took to build another beautiful relationship. How lucky to have two loves in his life.
Yesterday I found out Marie has been working on oil painting. She painted a picture of my grandfather and she wanted to show it to the family. His smiling face was peering back at me through my iPhone while I was on my morning commute. What a deep and wonderful love they had. You can see it in the way she paints him and in the way the painting smiles back at her.
When I leave this Earth I hope I will have made an impression on someone’s heart as lasting at the impression my grandfather left on Marie’s. ❤