Grandmother Power: Treasuring Golden Moments

golden-moments

This essay is a personal reflection and a contribution to Tara Sophia Mohr’s 2103 Grandmother Power Blogging Campaign.

I would not have known myself capable of writing a tribute to my grandmother.  I think of who she is now–twenty-two years after my grandfathers death–and my mind cannot remember who she used to be. So, I breathe into it, and my heart opens to share this with you.

For perspective, my paternal grandmother is about to turn 90 next month. She lives a country away, in an assisted living senior home.  Although the family she holds near and dear has moved to various locations around the country, and we have each issued invitations to her to re-locate, she refuses to leave because my grandfathers grave is right there, near her. Even now, she sacrifices her own comfort to be there for him.  And I learn from all that she reflects.

The Energy of Love

When my grandfather passed away 22-years ago, my grandmother sat in a chair for 48- hours.

I think her entire being was in shock, from his unexpected passing and from the reality of gambling debt he incurred.  In one moment, she lost everything that was dear and familiar to her.

I watched as this once joy-filled woman who loved to host lavish dinner parties and laugh and sing, chose to release it all.  I felt her pain and observed the immediate deflation of her spirit.  Her physical illness manifested to extremes that would limit her movements and her conversation shrunk to only include all that was.

My reaction was to promise myself that I would never, in my life ever, love someone as much as she loved my grandfather, because I would never, in my life ever, wish to experience the kind of pain she was in.

My creation was to acknowledge and appreciate her reflection of steadfast love and devotion and allow myself to feel it in every area of lifeto infuse my connections and creations and move me into new spaces in all realms.

I thoroughly enjoy the energy of love–I cultivate, create, and celebrate it with purpose and intent and I only know that depth and range of love is possible because my grandmother so graciously modeled it for me. 

I only see this now, as I share this with you…thank you for the gift of sharing!

The Energy of Food

I had nineteen years with my grandmother before my grandfather died–she was the woman who encouraged me to be the light in the room, while the rest of my family quietly asked me to dim it.

To share the essence of my grandmother requires a gentle stretch beyond this knot in my heart, into memories from a childhood in which my grandmother’s home was my favorite place to be.

When you opened the door to her home, you would be met with the aroma of one of your favorite foods.  If there were multiple people visiting, that meant a buffet of delectable treats.

The formal dining room table would be set with china, crystal glasses, linen napkins, and silver.  Candle-light was a requirement.

These meals would last an entire day.  The adults would drink wine or champagne, the children always had virgin cocktails with cherries.  There were board games, magic tricks, jokes, stories that went on for ages, singing, laughter.

The love and connection was palpable. 

My grandmother used the energy of food to heal hearts.

I have always understood this was how she showed, and shared her love, and my table is quite similar.  While my approach is very informal, your favorite foods will be served, with love and gratitude.  Your presence is appreciated, and you know that from the way your food is prepared and served and the conversation is compelling and custom to you. In those moments you feel seen and adored, the experience nourishes and enlivens.

I originally shared these skills through my own catering company.  That catering company evolved into Facets of Joy–this site that is my new “table”.

The Energy of Faith

My grandmother is a devout Catholic.  She loves the ritual within the practice–beginning each day and ending each evening with prayer, lighting candles and praying the rosary with intention. She prays for self, others, world.  She prays regardless of external.

She recognizes holy days, saints days.  She invokes the support of angels.  She attended mass daily until she was unable to physically attend.

If something is “wrong” she prays.  If something is “right” she prays.

She fully believes there isn’t a reason to be upset with God; He plans and guides with love, and it is our job to trust fully, even if external feels less than optimal. Her faith is unwavering.

My grandmother saw the best in people, even when they (or others) could not.  She opened her home to share with everyone, even those whom were ostracized, criticized, or misunderstood.  She didn’t ask why they chose a certain path, she simply ministered to their immediate needs. 

I don’t believe she knew how to put conditions upon love, and I am certain forgiveness was a natural overflowing of that love, not something she thought about or purposely practiced, just simply extended as she loved. 

(I write that in past tense, because after my grandfather’s passing, this natural overflowing compassion transformed a bit.)

Her unconditional love felt fresh and radical, especially within our community, because there were many who were judgmental, sarcastic and critical.

The Energy of Joy

Only as I write this today, can I stretch into this understanding: I might have seen her heart-break, and her subsequent choices constrict her joy, but what I experienced before then influenced who I am today.

And, she might not understand the specifics of my energy work, but she planted the seeds that invited me to center into practices of presence to unfolding within organic growth, faith and trust, to be love and share gratitude, the foundation of my life as I continue becoming Joy.

Respect for Elders

I do know that when I visit her in her home, there are many elders who are “stuck away and forgotten”.

Women, and men, whom contributed their beings to live fully, and now feel discarded.

When I walk in with a smile and a hello, their world brightens.  When I take the time to sit and listen to one of the many stories they each have to tell, I learn.  I don’t always know the ‘lesson’ in the moment I am listening, but I absorb the feel of the message and it later affirms something I had been questioning or invites exploration into new space.

Sometimes, my grandmother repeats the same story over and over.  I used to feel anything but grateful.

Now I realize each time she shares the experience, it brings her joy to relive the memory, and it gives me an opportunity to lean in to depth and range of the feel and the seeds of love continue to blossom to heal her heart and bless my own.

Thank you for receiving my gentle stretch and celebrating this reflection of love!

To contribute your own reflection and/or to read other reflections, please click this link: The Grandmother Power Blogging Campaign.

I would love for you to share a Grandmother Power memory in the comment section below. May you share a special memory with– or lesson from– your grandmother and/or if you are a grandmother, a special memory or lesson you experienced with your grandchildren. 

Much peace and abundant love,

Joy

Reminder: Unravel. Unfurl. Unfold.

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Comments on: "Grandmother Power: Treasuring Golden Moments" (10)

  1. Hi Joy,

    This is a very moving piece…your voice and clarity rings through it even when it travels into difficult emotional terrain. In the process, it shows so many dimensions of your grandmother and your relationship with her. I really enjoyed this.

    • Thank you for your presence to this piece, Seth. Having just discovered your work, I very much appreciate the affirmation in your words.

      Since my May intention is to unravel, I chose to dip into vulnerable space to observe and share these memories for a cause that I believe in (The Grandmother Power campaign) and what I learned as I wrote and re-membered has opened new heart space.

      Do you have a memory of, or lesson from, your grandmother you would like to share?

  2. Awesome story! I love the whole visual and feel of what it was like to eat all day at your Grandmother’s house. And how audacious she seemed–in her quiet acceptance of–everyone—regardless of their affliction or others judgment of their lifestyles/choices. Powerful example indeed Joy!

    My maternal Grandmother–I was quite close to. At a young age, I knew I was blessed to have “all four” of my grandparents still alive. Grandma and Gampa (!)’s house was across from the Middle School. I walked there more times than I can count after school–to help Gampa out with chores, lawnwork, run electric jobs with him and more. Grandma, was the quiet, but very staunch and opinionated matriarch of the household. She didn’t have to speak her disapproval of you–for you to know it. She grew up –one of several daughters in an immigrant Swedish household. Her father was a quarry worker. It was a no-nonsense lifestyle. You worked. You left the house early if you were a girl to make $ for the family. Exuberance wasn’t exactly encouraged. Joy was stifled beneath a veneer of toughness. And my Grandmother took on that same tough exterior.
    Her house was immaculate, her taste in antiques was magic to me. I was wowed at her ability to cook, entertain, and set one helluva table for alot of us. Family gatherings were not only common–but your attendance was mandated. But what I learned from her was—ther were moments where she would start to giggle at something….and then giggle again…and pretty soon, she couldn’t contain herself. LOTS of times she had to excuse herself from her own lavish table—to go have her giggling fit out of range of everyone there. It didn’t matter. By the time she’d left the table–the entire family was roaring with laughter at whatever Grandma’d found so funny. Early on, as a kid, I realized– there was an AWESOME kid inside my Grandma-that had a wicked funny bone! And? She could laugh at herSELF! What a GIFT! And she didn’t think it had to end–after one big laugh. Sometimes it went on and on—hours after everyone’d left–you’d catch her cleaning up–and see that she was actually physically shaking. From behind–it looked like she might be choking or convulsing. Several times I’d have to ask her if she was OK. She’d try and wave you off–and turn even further away from you. But when I got closer–it suddenly became clear: She was STILL laughing! Crying! And trying to laugh silently so noone would tickle that funnybone even more than it already was! So I learned from my Grandmother aLOT about respect, and manners, and how to treat your elders. She made that ultimately clear–without ANY doubt as to boundaries between adult and kids. But what I also learned was: laughter transcends ALL of that! She was FUN! And FUNNY! Even though she may not see it–its the most powerful part of my Grandmother I’ve always remembered! And I LOVE to laugh lol!

    Thanks MUCH for the story of your Grandmother Joy! I think I know now–where you get so MUCH of you! Bless! And keep on!

    • Wow, Steve, my Grandmother brought your presence to Facets—a gift I am grateful for, thank you! (Course I *did* fly all of the way across America to volunteer at a Cool kids event *grin*.) I love when you share, for I learn!

      Audacious was a word I placed on my May vision board–and here you are affirming it.

      Thank you for sharing your story about your grandmother. Yes, we had similar experiences. My grandmother set this very formal, very pristine table, overflowing with abundance in all ways, yet she loved to dance and sing and while she wouldn’t always do so herself, she very much encouraged us to do so, to “entertain her so she could sing and dance along”.

      We respected her, not because she forced us to, but because her presence inspired it. I observed and I learned and I understand this energy is what enables me to be in places that others are not, and to hold space for those whom others choose not to.

      I love your laugh…I love that you share it so generously…and I love that you know it has the power to transform, shift, and heal everything. may you continue to vest in that laughter now, as you move through this space you are in…

      Thank you for sharing!

  3. jean sampson said:

    Thank you, Joy, and also Steve, for sharing such wonderful stories. I was a lucky kid—–one grandmother built a little cottage next to our house which my husband and I lived in for 30 years after she died. So I had a grandmother who I loved fiercely that lived with me when I was a child. My Dad’s parents lived two blocks up the road on the way to my grade school (which is now the building in which I have my studio). So I had all of my living grandparents around and I loved it!
    My mother’s mother (who lived with us), told me the best ghost stories I have ever heard and said they were true! I even wrote a short story about one of the ghost stories! My other grandparents were a little more reserved, but still very loving and wonderful. I feel very blessed to have had all of those folks near-by when I was a child.

    • I love this sense of roots and history you share, Jean, I soak it right up because it hadn’t been my own experience. Thank you!

      I love that you shared time with both sets of grandparents and that you had the joy of living in your grandmother’s cottage…I can imagine how that feels as you create and connect in new ways from such a wonderful space!

      I can imagine the thrill of ghost stories and the delight of having someone spin them for you!

      Thank you for this reflection…such a gift to experience through you!

      Love to you!

  4. When I was young, my grandmother and I had a weekly ritual. Every Friday she would pick me up and I’d spend the night at her house. I clearly remember feeling sorry for my friends, all of whom just stayed with their parents on Friday nights – boring!

    Part of our routine involved going to the grocery store and, in the course of her shopping, stop by the seafood section so we could look at all the fish eyes. I’m not sure who began this tradition, but my child’s imagination was fascinated by the sight; and I was completely oblivious to the reality that this was quite an eccentric little “hobby” of ours when compared alongside that of most families.

    Later on we made yearly trips to the Catskills in NY (About a 5 hour drive, as I recall). We stayed at the “Mullan’s Inn”, of course, and many of her warm and companionable friends from England would join us. Many times I expressed to people my amazement over the fact that my 65 year-old grandmother could still beat me at tennis.

    In the evening we’d all go to the tavern where she and her friends would have cocktails and I’d play arcade games like Galaga into the wee hours.

    We returned from one of these trips laden with a bucket full of newts and salamanders that I’d collected at the river. This woman who’d reputedly been a bit stern and inflexible with her own children always seemed to indulge my every flight of fancy. Of course I accepted this permissiveness gladly – and I do think that my presence did much to draw out the child in her as well, in the process.

    • Thank you, Seth, for returning to share a story…that means a lot, and I appreciate it very much. I do apologize for the delay in responding…I was swept up in unraveling a knot for Mother’s day.

      I love the feel of this reflection…*magical*..I cannot imagine for I have not known such a person in my life. I like your eccentric tradition of looking at fish eyes, and can see how you might think your friend’s Friday evenings boring in comparison *grin*. The depth and range of your imagination infuses your work today, which inspires people, so I love that you shared this experience.

      As I read your words, I now remember that my step-grandparents loved to frequent bars–they would bring me along and I would play pinball and air hockey for hours at a time, with whomever wished to play. Air hockey is one of my favorite games; it surprises people that I am very good at it, and now I see where this originated..thank you!

  5. Joy,
    This is just so lovely! Through your descriptions I feel as though I know your grandmother… the quiet determination and inner strength… the unwavering love… the words of understanding that need not be exchanged.

    These are the traits that I remember in my own grandmother… the one I loved… the one who each time I came for a visit would make homemade brownies with fudge topping, I would save for later:)… all served with little glass juice jars filled with milk… with a full tummy, we would set off for the couch and endless stories about Brown Bear.

    Thank you for taking us on this journey.

    • *grin* I *love* brownies and I think I love Brown Bear stories, too. Thank you, Carrie, for shining clarity on my grandmother’s reflection for me: quiet determination, inner strength, unwavering love….

      The feel of the experience you shared is nourishing, delightful, decadent, fulfilling. I love that and will use those words as guides in the coming week!

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