For most of my Granny's adult life, she had a metal triangle-shaped calendar on her dresser. It had knobs on each side to control the month, date and day of the week. She changed it every day of her life, and when she died, I asked my mom if I could have it. Now I change it every single day, thinking often of my Granny, and last night I got a shiver down my spine when I turned those knobs, because I thought about how short time really is.
I sat down on my bed and imagined my Granny as a young woman, just starting out in the world, turning that calendar each day. I thought of her as a young mom with my mom as her daughter, in the same stage of life as I am in right now. She told me as she got older that every time she looked in the mirror she was surprised, because she still felt like that young girl inside.
In my twenties I couldn't really understand that, but all of a sudden I can, as I approach the halfway point of my life. Life is a continuous thing; a loop that extends on a thread from one generation into the next. My Granny died 18 months ago, and I was privileged to be in the hospital room with her when she took her final breath and moved on to the next place. I recently wrote a short story about this powerful experience, from the point of view of my Granny as she died, and I realized that a certain amount of time has to go by before we can face these kinds of momentous experiences, and comprehend the impact they have on our lives and our perspectives.
Towards the end of my Granny's life, she was beginning to tell the same stories over and over again. Her mind became fuzzy around the edges, but she could reach back through her earliest memories and find that they were still crisp and clear. I got tired of listening to the same things, nodding and smiling in all of the right places, but now that she is gone, I'm grateful for those stories. They gave me a more complete picture of who she was as a person. She wasn't always 90 years old, frail and arthritic. She was a young woman with hopes and dreams, who loved and was loved, and built a happy life filled with good memories to keep her warm as she got older.
I'm inspired by this. It offers me a pattern to follow in my own life. Living as fully as we can with the time we are given is all that we can do. We can watch our kids grow and ensure that the thread between us is unbroken, and we can nurture our parents and keep that relationship as strong as we can so we have no regrets when they are gone.