My grandmother passed away in her sleep on January 8, 2014 – at around 3 a.m.
I know you might be envisioning a sweet little old lady, with cats or a cute sweatshirt that has something embroidered on the front of it…
or maybe a woman whose house smelled like freshly baked, warm cookies, or a woman who wore aprons.
But my grandma?
My grandma was like no other grandmother out there.
Anyone who knew her knew someone special, driven, bold, and creative.
I am going to attempt to encompass her personality by transforming its massive but complex qualities into simple text, but I already know that it is not going to come close to frame her spirit or match its vigor.
She was a lover of any soul that the world would try to tell you wasn’t ‘worth’ anything.
Right off the top of my head, the major causes that she stood behind:
*Special needs children-Their right for inclusion and to be celebrated, and accepted.
* Helping people who suffered or struggled from some form of mental illness (her daughter- and she considered this an illness or disease, not a defect.)
*Supporting, loving, accepting, and defending Gay rights —their freedom to choose to live life the way that they feel suits them personally, because after all, they are just people like you and me.
*Feminism. She was definitely a supporter of women but she went beyond that. She pushed the boundaries and she liked to shatter preconceived assumptions.
She was an incredible writer. She wrote short stories, screenplays, comedy pieces & skits, plays, and a column in an Irish newspaper that she was also partial owner of.
She had a genius I.Q.
She was upfront, honest and outspoken.
She wasn’t afraid -of anything.
Being told ‘she would be able’ to do something rekindled the fire inside of her…
She believed that people all deserved a shot. All people.
She was a witty, analytic thinker.
She wanted us to know how big this world is, as it is much bigger than what we can see.
She always encouraged other people to go after their dreams and not to ever, ever, ‘think small’.
She taught us that people, regardless of how they looked, how slow or fast they thought or comprehended, who they chose to love, or what religion they followed– they were all worthy of love and respect.
She taught me that I should only partake in activities that I would be comfortable having printed on the front page of a newspaper…
She was an advocate for being ‘you’ before it was cool.
She was at every emergency room visit—by my side through every major injury, every stitch.
When I didn’t have the courage to take a first step in any endeavor, she was there pushing me and encouraging me. She wouldn’t allow me to second guess my own abilities.
She taught me how to line dance, play black-jack, and how to be comfortable in the only skin that I have.
She taught me the value of knowing how to read a map and the importance of turning the radio off during a road trip.
I know why we tell stories about our lives and how much there is to absorb from the experiences of another human.
If you have an idea, work for it. Apply yourself and make it happen. You are the way from point a- to point b. There is nothing stopping you, except for your idea that you cannot do something.
I could go on and on, and who knows.
This is probably just a part-1.
My parents struggled hardcore with drug addiction/alcoholism when I was a child, so I spent a significant amount of time with her for many, many years. I am just not sure that I realized the impact that she had on my life.
I have watched as she led her life with arms outstretched to other special needs families in need for so many years and as she loved on children that were overlooked by society as a whole. I observed her living out her love and her passions manifest and as she left a little bit of her personality, everywhere that she went.
I have never met anyone as fearless and strong-
or as funny and intelligent, or as cut throat or badass.
She really was a force to be reckoned with, because when she believe in something or set a new goal-
there wasn’t anything that was going to deter her.
I know her spirit is watching over all of us.
We all know she’s dancing in the sky and singing with damn you (family dog), Grandpa John, Grandma Mickey, Tiny Phil, Grandpa Phil, Matthew and all of the other loved ones who were waiting for her arrival.
She can breathe. She can walk, run, jump, dance and laugh as long and loud as she can.
Everything is different…
but not – gone.
My heart is so heavy and I literally feel physically sick.
We experienced our fair share of ups and downs, but at the end of the day she knew, as did I that we had a special bond and a connection like nothing else I have ever experienced.
All that I keep thinking is the only thing that we can do now, is honor her by allowing her life and legacy to live on — through our outstretched hands.
This speaks to my aching heart and soul right now.
I know she’s dancing – I know it.