That woman is my beautiful Grandma Jane. The strongest woman I ever knew in this life, the woman I try to emulate in all ways, and one of the women who raised me. She's been gone now ten years today.
I knew this day was coming, but it came fast. Life, time, is fleeting. That baby in the stroller is now 11 years old, and my heart is now ten years stronger.
Have I healed in the time she's been gone? No, far from it. If I had healed, there would be no book to be written.
It's hard for me to know what to write on such a day as this one. Ten years is a long time to hold onto one's grief, and yet, I do hold onto it. I will hold onto it until the day I join her in the great unknown. My pain is what makes me, me.
And here's my dilemma, I look at this woman and I see strength, resilience, determination, not pain. This woman was not a victim to her circumstances. She never played the role of victim, she always played the role of guardian. Decision maker. Get-shit-done... person. She put her foot down and things happened, changed, moved. She took ownership of her hardships, and lived up to the potential it took to overcome them.
But... she did not overcome.
She never would.
Maybe she knew this. Maybe overcoming was never the point.
I knew her, and I say this pridefully, a little more intimately then the rest of my cousins and family that lived outside of the walls of our home. It's because of this that I can say that I think she knew that life was never going to get better. She had to live in the moment. She didn't have a choice. Her moments were all that she had, and if she wasted time being victimized by her life, well, she would waste her life, and Grandma Jane was NOT a life waster.
This photo was taken two months before she passed away. Does she look like a woman letting life get her down? Do you see my own mother anywhere in this photo? No, and no.
Why do I mention that? Because my mother was a victim to everything in her life. She was on this very day, laying in bed moaning and groaning about how hard and horrible life had become for her. My mother had given up.
Grandma Jane never would.
Grandma Jane was my rock, and I don't care where she is in this world, but she is STILL my rock.
Grandma Jane is my very reason for all that I do.
She demanded nothing from those around her. She stepped up, took care, and it was as simple as that. She never asked for anything in return. That doesn't mean she didn't wish for more, and hope that one day her family would be a lot less broken then it was, but she never felt entitled to the world or demanding that it give her more.
You wouldn't know by looking at this photo but at this time in her life my Grandma Jane suffered greatly from depression. Honestly, that only makes sense to me. Grandma Jane having depression makes sense.
I want to talk about depression and what that really is, and just how much "depression" varies from person to person.
After this outing she would go home, make a cup of coffee, have a cigarette or two while sitting on her back patio, contemplate life and it's meaning, or simply reflect on the beautiful day spent with her granddaughter and great-granddaughter, take a deep breath with the life she had left inside of her, which by now she knew wasn't much, and then nap for the rest of the afternoon. And this was her off day. She worked until her very last day. She was 72 years old. Today she would be 82.
Grandma Jane was the epitome of strength, and there is no better way to honor her memory then by stating that and living my life through her example.
As my book comes to a conclusion, and life marches forward, and I do things that seem spontaneous, remember that all that I do is because of her strength and all that she did for me. In a very real way, what I'm doing is simply paying it forward. I can not thank her enough for saving me, and sheltering me through all of our storms together.
I love you so much Grandma Jane.