April 17, 2008

My grandma died on March 28. She was almost 92. I got word a few hours before my flight was supposed to leave. Even though I knew it was a possibility, the call still came as a surprise.

Normally, I fall asleep before the plane takes off. This time, I didn’t–couldn’t–sleep a wink. Instead, I watched five movies on my personal video player, ate fists full of jelly beans and wiped tears away with the sleeve of my hoodie.

When I arrived, I was startled to see that the wake was being held in my grandparents’ living room. I was instructed to say “hello” to my grandma who looked beautiful, peaceful and even happy.

The week was filled with visits from family and friends, colleagues and students–people from all walks of life who knew my grandma, loved and appreciated her, and wanted to pay their respects. I heard so many stories about Grandma, some that I knew by heart and others that I’d never heard before.

Grandma wasn’t just a grandmother. She was a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend. She was a principal, a teacher, a choral group leader, a women’s league president, a girl scout leader. She was a sponsor, a donor, a volunteer, a caregiver. She was truly special.

The grief hit(s) in waves. I broke down sobbing three days into my visit. I don’t know how the tears started but once they did, I couldn’t stop.

My mom asked me to write a eulogy, but I couldn’t. I felt like I’d already paid tribute through a biography I wrote for the funeral program, and I knew I would fall apart if I tried to say anything in front of hundreds of people. Mom joked that Grandma expected me to write something, but I knew that wasn’t true. I’d already said all I could.

Grandma and I wrote letters most of my adult life. I’d even written a note to send with Mom when she went a few days ahead of me. I’m sure Grandma knew I loved her up until the end.

A few days before she died, we spoke on the phone. I was told that she was in a bit of pain at that point, and she would often cry because she was so uncomfortable. When she handed the phone back to my Uncle after our quick chat, though, he said Grandma was smiling.

That’s how I’ll always remember my grandma. Smiling. Sweetly, after another dear and heartfelt exchange.


  1. lisa s says:

    oh christine. my heart goes out to you.
    big hugs. take care. i’m sure she is smiling down on you….

  2. Erlina says:

    Sending big hugs your way.

  3. kim says:

    that is the best way to remember her! much love to you.

  4. barbara says:

    Sorry to hear this Christine. I’ve been reading your blog for quite a long time now and I remember reading your vacations in the Philippines ages ago and how you wrote letters to your Grandma etc.

    You have been lucky to have a very good relationship with your grandma and having to share beautiful moments with her.

    You know that she’ll be watching over you and she’s in a good place where she won’t feel anymore pain.

    Condolence to your family and extra big hugs for you.

  5. Cat says:

    You got to have a wonderful relationship with your grandmother, and I’m sure you know that it is something special that not everyone has with their elders.

    I know from your blog that you have lots of wonderful people around you, and I know that you will all be taking care of each other.

  6. melissa says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. All of my grandparents are gone now and I have those waves of sadness even after so many years. You have all of the wonderful memories of her and hopefully those letters too. And remember she is still with you always. xo

  7. Julie says:

    Sending you hugs from Canada. I’m so sorry about your Grandma.

  8. mai says:

    Oh Im so sorry for your loss. *hugs*

  9. Marisa and Creative says:

    thinking of you christine ~

  • I'm Christine, and this is a slice of my life—a sweet, rich, wildly indulgent slice that would taste really good with a scoop of Breyers vanilla bean ice cream. Read more >>

  • I run a darling, friendly, little graphic design studio.
    I look on the bright side.
    I take photos. Lots of photos.
    I wish on stars and on websites.

  • I built my first web site 7 years ago and got 15 seconds of fame. (It changed my life.)
    I launched, then relaunched, an online magazine.
    I admitted to several embarrassing crushes.
    I consumed more bacon than any human should and lived to tell the tales.

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