I never knew my grandfathers – they both died before I was born. My dad’s mother died when I was ten. So I’ve only ever really known one grandparent – my mother’s mum. Most people call their grandmother “grandma,” or “nana” or a close equivalent of sorts. In my home, my grandmother was always, “mama.” It makes sense, she was a mother to everyone she encountered. In late October, she passed. The grief remains.
My grandmother had the same relationship that I have with my mother – they often bickered but their love is special, a bond that cannot be explained except by the two people who share it. Indeed like my grandfather before her, my grandmother died of a broken heart – only a few days after the loss of my aunt. It was too much to bear. Her soul needed to find peace. In my heart and through my tears, I know that she has found it. But it still hurts, everyday it hurts.
When your mother loses her mother, you are confronted with a terrifying truth, a truth that will shake you to the core: That one day you will lose your own mother. One day you might bury your own mother. Your heart breaks. Not only for the loss of your grandmother but that your mother must go through such pain. Your heart will be heavy. For a time, there will be no respite, no consolation, no solace. All you will have is heartbreak.
Through the heartbreak, however, you will be filled with memories, some of them fictional, some of them told to you. My favorite story of my mama is that she once carried an older woman on her back to the hospital, for an extraordinary number of miles. My mother was just a child at the time but she believes what kept her mother going was love. And in this way, my grandmother’s life manifested this: That love makes the journey lighter.
The lessons I have learned from my grandmother’s life are endless – perseverance, hard work, trust in God, and a good sense of humor can carry you through many of life’s problems. But perhaps the most important thing that has been passed down from her, aside from love, is generosity: That you should always give from what you have because one will never have enough at any given time. My mama lived by this, even when she had close to nothing. Her home was a home for all.
I had always imagined that my mama would be around to see me truly able to give her more comfort in her old age. The last thing she told me the last time I saw her was, “I will eat from your food.” It’s a proverb that means that she would enjoy the fruits of my labor; a blessing and prayer for success. But she was gone too soon for me to give her everything I wanted to. And perhaps the most difficult truth is no matter when she would go, she would always have gone too soon.
Real love, I think, is something that never ends. And the love of my mama will always be with me. Perhaps more so now than before, because I have to live up to the rare kind of love she had – a love that was always ready to sacrifice at any moment. A love that gives you strength; a love that I experience even from the grave. I will never be able to thank her enough for her love or her life. But I believe she is with me always. Still teaching, still loving; finally at peace.
Indeed a great lady of love has been lost from the earth, but heaven has gained an angel. Still I want to say thank you mama, thank you for your life. I will miss you always. And I will love you forever. Because your love, mama, your love is forever. And it will be with me through the end of my days. And by God’s grace, we shall meet again in heaven.
A grandmother’s love is forever.