My Grandmother ... Nani as we call her, my last remaining grandparent, is going to turn 90 years old in a few weeks. A most impressive age. Sadly, as she reaches this milestone birthday - we watch as her mind slowly slips away. I have many thoughts about this. The cruel realization that in our old age we often suffer. I wonder why. At this age haven't our dues already been thoroughly paid?
I am the type of person who can be deeply affected by a single lyric in a song. I remember the first time I heard the song "7 Years" by Lukas Graham ... an amazing song worth listening to that speaks about the different stages of life and what it means to grow old. After listening to this song obsessively and relentlessly on repeat as I tend to do when I find a song I love - one specific lyric stood out to me and made me pause ... final verse, fourth line ... "I hope my children come and visit once or twice a month."
Without any context surrounding this line it seems incredibly simple ... not the usual lyric that would jump out and hit you in the face. But for some reason in that moment, for me, it did. As a few tears formed in the corners of my eyes my Nani's face appeared in my mind.
I think back to everything she has accomplished and experienced in her long life. Growing up in England during the war. Secretly removing her gas mask from its case and replacing it with her dance shoes during bomb threats so that she could escape to the dance hall with her friends. Getting on a boat to cross the Atlantic Ocean at the age of 19 to reunite with my Grandpa, a soldier in Canada at the time. They had been married in England a year earlier, he had to return to Canada immediately after the wedding, and she had 365 days to wait before she could see him, her love again. Giving birth to 6 children. Sadly, losing one to SIDS. Raising 5 children, 3 boys and 2 girls while holding down a job as a waitress to help pay the bills. Keeping up an impeccable home - amazing meals every evening, a spic-and-span household. Teaching, nurturing and supporting. Watching her children grow, marry and have children of their own. Hosting countless family dinners and Christmas Eve celebrations for her children, their spouses and her eventual 15 grandchildren. Purchasing and wrapping 25 gifts each and every Christmas. Purposely becoming an important part of her grandchildren's lives ... evolving to be not just a Grandma, but also a friend. Making memories and sharing in the joy of the birth of 16 great grandchildren (with still 3 more on the way).
I have always found her to be fabulous in every which way ... her fashion, her style, her opinions, her love for her family, her faith. And now that I am a Mother I appreciate her story more than I ever have before. With only one child and my role as a Mama just beginning I look at her in awe. Raising 5 children?!? I can barely keep it together with one. My mind travels back through the past year of my life and how full it has felt (of both joy and exhaustion) with the addition of little Sav. I think about how tired I feel some days. I try to multiply that feeling by 5. By 20 just for good measure, after all I have a few more luxuries at my disposal in the year 2017 than she did back in 1960-something.
As I listen again to that line in that song, I get goosebumps. "I hope my children come and visit once or twice a month." Once. Or twice? Is that really ALL we should hope for?
After everything she has given as a Mother, as a Wife, as a Grandmother. All of the time. All of the energy. All of the love. It made me feel blessed to still have her in my life. And it made me think ... "I need to visit my Nani more often."