On Grandma

Writing for me has always been something cathartic. There’s something self-healing about putting your thoughts to paper – something that I have found brings me whole again when I feel unrest.  In the past, I’ve used my writings to talk about my views on religion, my children, and life. Today, I use my words to honor someone – my Grandmother.  My Grandmother is very ill, in hospice at her home, surrounded by family.

My Grandmother is by all accounts one of the most amazing people I ever had to opportunity to call family. In all honesty, when I look at the top 5 most influential people on my life, she’s easily in that list.

For those that know her, or had a chance to ever cross paths with her, Virginia Geib is one of the coolest, happiest, most down to earth people you will ever meet. She is a wife, a mother, a Grandmother, a Great Grandmother, and many other roles – roles she excels in.  She is a God-fearing, Elvis-Loving, Star Trek fan who can cook better than anyone you ever met. I could fill this writing with paragraphs of adjectives to describe how wonderful a person my Grandmother is – but instead, I’ll leave you with the lessons she’s taught me instead:

She taught me about loving nature and beauty. I was the second grandchild of many, my brother being the first.  Growing up, we juggled from spending time overseas where my parents were contractors in the Middle East, to spending long vacation-like stints with my Grandparents at their home in Ohio.  These visits were some of the highlights of my childhood. My Grandmother absolutely loves to garden.  Her backyard was a utopia of fruits and vegetables, of flowers and exciting things for a young child to get lost in.  She used to let me walk around with her, watering flowers as she took the time and patience to explain each and every flower to me. I was (and continue to be) mesmerized by her love of nature and beauty, and thankful for her forgiveness when my cousin Victoria and I decided it might be a good idea to dig a hole in her flowerbed to China (we didn’t make it, but I’d like to think we got pretty far).

She taught me that loving and getting together with family was simple, important, and vital. Every year, usually a couple weeks before Christmas, we had cookie day at Grandma’s house. My Grandmother opened up her kitchen to all of her grandchildren to decorate and cook cookies. This day always was a beautiful chaos of homemade icing, decorating sprinkles, and over-sugared grandchildren – in fact, cookie day was the highlight of my childhood career – more than Christmas.  It was in those moments I forged strong relationships with my extended family, and understood how simply beautiful time could be when all you had to do was decorate a cookie. Grandma was always willing to taste each one I made, even as I held out to her a cookie with 3 pounds of icing I was so proud of – of that I am sure to anyone over the age of 7 was utterly disgusting.

She taught me the value of learning and appreciating where you came from. My Grandmother treated genealogy like a calling from heaven. Even before she went into hospice, she was working on a book about our family line – a book that was forged from extensive travels with my Grandfather to areas only accessible by a rental car in rural Germany. One summer, I spent a longer than usual amount of time with just my Grandfather and my Grandmother.  We ate meals together, went for ice-cream together, argued about who was a bigger threat to the Federation – the Cardassians or the Romulans (remember, she was a Star Trek fan) and joked together. At dinner, she’d tell me stories of her childhood, her experiences, and of my family. I got to know my Grandmother on such a deep level that summer, and realized how special our relationship was. Her knowledge and passion for understanding who we were as a family was infectious.

Most of all, Grandma taught me about love.  This may seem cliché to you, but it’s not.  My Grandmother’s legacy was teaching us all that love begins with serving others, like Christ served us.  There wasn’t a meal I ate with my Grandmother where she wasn’t the last one to sit down. She’d muddle about the kitchen, getting anything you needed and making sure everyone was comfortable. She was always the last to sit down and eat, and I always waited until Grandma was done to get up from the table. Although I’d like to say this was always about respect, the truth is – I enjoyed her company.  I enjoyed her, and what she stood for.

As my Grandmother’s enters hospice, I am able to watch her legacy unfold. Her children are rallying. I’m watching my mother, whom I already recognize as one of the strongest women I will ever know (in part, no doubt, to her mother’s upbringing) become stronger. I’m watching a family band together, and gather around one amazing woman’s bedside.  Until the day my Grandmother was moved into hospital care, I called my Grandparents weekly, sometimes twice a week religiously on my way home from work.  I’d tell them about my life, about my family, about my career, and anything else that might be new. My Grandmother always answered the phone. She always looked forward to my calls, and she always listened intently. She always called back after we hung up to say she loved me, and told me to be sure to call again. You could set your watch to it. In each of those calls, I always promised her I’d call back again, and I never backed down on that promise. I’m glad I didn’t. It was some of the best phone conversations of my life. I’ll cherish those memories.

My last visit a week ago with my Grandmother was wonderful. She was able to see her Great Grandchildren, and my son, Ephraim sang her a song.  At one point in the visit, her meal arrived at her hospital bed from the nutrition office. I told her to please eat. She said she didn’t want to until she was sure all the babies had a chance to eat too.  I gently explained to her I would make sure they were fed, and that it was okay that she took care of herself for once. She still wouldn’t pick up her fork.

There is no doubt that when my Grandmother leaves this world, she’ll be with Jesus, happy – healthy – pain free, and hearing those words we all long so much to hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Grandma, if you get a chance to hear or read  this, which I know you will – because you never missed one of my writings – I hope I did you proud.  I love you, and I want you to know how special you are to me.

Your Grandson,

–        Grant Edward 🙂