Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A family evolves

The below photo is maybe not the most flattering, but it captures that character that my Great Grandma Olga (G.G. Olga-she was like a celebrity) embodied. She had spunk, charisma, and above all, strength. She was the matriarch of my dad's family. We compared her to the Queen of England and since she was Canadian, she may have somewhere down the line been related to the Royal Family. Who knows?!
When she passed away five years ago, our family was affected deeply. I spent the middle part of my freshman year trekking up to Grand Forks or Warroad to help bring a bit of cheer and relieve my Grandma Lainey of some of the stress she was carrying. I would not trade that time for anything. It still makes me tear up thinking about it.
One of the most memorable times I had in those last few months was a Friday night I spent with my Grandma Lainey and my Great Grandma. It was scary, and sad, but now that I look back on it, I view it as a blessing, a time with a true Angel.
It was about midnight and G.G. Olga was trying to fall asleep. This was hard for her because for a while, she really fought death. She did not want to miss a thing so falling asleep seemed to scare her a bit. I slept on a chair that folded out into a bed on the floor to help her if she had to go to the restroom, and my Grandma Lainey slept in the room right next to us.
My Grandma Lainey loves taking care of others and no one more then her mom so undoubtedly, she was on edge during this time. She ran into the room twice because she did not hear G.G. Olga snoring. Finally, I moved off my makeshift bed and offered it to Grandma Lainey while I took the floor. The three of us slept in that room, at least, I think you could call it that.
G.G. Olga woke up at 3:30 am for what I thought was a bit of a snack. However, she was ready to get up for the day. While she sat at the kitchen table, I tried to fall back to sleep but had the urge to not waste this precious time. I got up, went to the bathroom with my clothes and makeup. I got dressed for the day, at 3:30 am, and went and joined my grandma at the table. I made her some breakfast and we sat there a bit, in the bright kitchen light, surrounded by darkness. We started talking about all she wanted to complete. She talked about her personal checks she wanted to get organized and this was something that was really bothering her. I suggested we do it right there. So there we sat, organizing her last three months of checks, even though I knew they would be discarded once G.G. Olga passed. It gave her piece of mind and that was all that mattered.
I cherish this time so much. My parents are realists and always keep us informed and for this I am so thankful. We knew what was going on. We were involved, and because of that, I got to form a bond with an amazing woman because I knew my time was short.
Even five years after her death, her presence is still felt. Whenever we see a rainbow or hear a train, she is there. When a purple flower appears or a certain song is heard on the radio, she is with us. On my wedding day, my father placed a purple flower and a green leaf in my bouquet. The purple flower was for my Great Grandma, and the leaf was from the tree my cat Whitey was buried under. Funny but we called both my cat and Great Grandma Whitey. Just another correlation in this strong family bond.

It has been five years though, and our family has grown by three. G.G. Olga has gained three new great grandchildren, two through birth and one through marriage. And even though she remains an important part of our daily lives, the title of family matriarch has shifted, and as the blood line would allow, another special lady has taken that title, her daughter, my Grandma Lainey. Not only is she also a character filled with charisma and craziness!, she is also full of strength, more then anyone could even imagine. She is the glue of this family, the one who checks in on everyone by either calling them until they pick up, sending a letter, or leaving them a note on facebook! She is positive and supportive and deserves the title just as much as her mom did!
We love you Grandma Lainey!


Joni Bonnell said...

Dear Pumpkin, What a beautiful post. I started crying as I read it aloud to D-Lo. You're an amazing writer. That time you spent with GG Olga before she passed will always be so special. I have that special time too only with Grandma Johanna. That time means more to me than so many other things. For this, we are both so blessed! I love you. Oh, and Adara, Grandma Lainy will be just fine, dear. I can tell you're sentimental and scared, but she'll be just fine.

Julie said...

What a beautiful tribute to two beautiful women! Thank you for the time you were able to give Grandma while she was sick. I know first hand that each of your visits absolutely lifted her spirits and made her feel better! For that, and many other reasons, I love you!