Friday, July 12, 2019

Grandma

She went by many names, but she was best known as "Grandma"
A special post today remembering a woman who was the definition of strength, courage, and most of all: love. Today is all about you, Grandma....

A cycle of care
My grandma was an extraordinary woman. She was the matriarch of our huge family, a legend in her own right. She had 12 children of her own the she raised. After caring for them, she continued her cycle of care by migrating from the Philippines to help take care of the next generation of her family: her grandkids.

The core of my childhood
My grandma was literally there for me since day one. She was there the moment I was born and helped raise me, along with my cousins that came after me. While each of our parents were busy working full time jobs, she was the one there for us each and every day. She would be there when we'd wake up with a full breakfast spread ready, then be there the second school was over, again with another hot meal ready. Some of my fondest childhood memories were of her at the dinner table, surrounded by my cousins all enjoying a meal together, chatting, joking around. Not only did she keep us well fed, but she also kept us safe from all the "could go wrong" shenanigans my cousins and I would try to pull off. She cared for us and always put our needs first.

Lessons through the years
We may not have known it then, but my grandma was teaching us some of the most important life lessons during the little moments in which she cared for us. She taught us that love is in the smallest things. She taught us that it's the tiniest details that matter the most in life. Like having a hot meal to always be waiting for you during the day, to work hard and be thankful for everything. She taught us the importance of family, how we may not always get along, but at the end of the day we're still family and we need to always be there for each other. No matter how crazy life would get, my grandma always made sure we knew we'd never be left behind or alone. She always made sure to know that she loved us.

Milestones and memories
As I got older, my grandma became my guiding light. In my angsty teen years, she was there to listen,. When I became an adult, she continued to be there as an outlet of love. We shared bonding moments over the daily gossip, ice cream dates and our selfies. I could always count on her to brighten my days with her humor. She was so incredibly funny and witty! She definitely was a source of endless laughter. And gosh, when she smiled? There was just this twinkle in her eyes that would warm your heart. You'd just want to do anything to make sure that it would never go away.
One of our ice cream dates. 
She eventually got to watch as my cousins and I each achieved a new milestone like graduations, relationships, weddings. We definitely felt lucky to always have her around to witness these moments. We also got to witness her own milestones with grand birthdays and knowing that every November 15th we'd don our best "red" outfits for luck and celebrate her with lots of cake (one of her favorites), food and grandma hugs.
Just a fraction of the memories over the years.

A courageous fight
My relationship with my grandma wasn't one where she lived out of town and we only would see her on major holidays. She literally lived 5 minutes away from me, then moving even closer just a few blocks away later in life. This made it so that she was in my life pretty much every day. When you see your grandma or anyone for that matter on pretty much a routine basis, you start to take it for granted that it can be taken away at any moment. My cousins and I would always joke that my grandma would live forever because she was so ingrained into our lives already and we thought of her as invincible.
Then the day came. My grandma suffered a bad fall in 2014 and through her recovery and series of check ups after, my family learned the worst: she had Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. For those that don't know about Alzheimers, it's a devastating disease that has no cure and affects the memories and livelihood of those who suffer from the disease. Alzheimer's is a mental degeneration. Basically, you watch your once lively, amazing, and bright loved ones turn into a shell of themselves. It's memory loss at its worst and incredibly tough for both the person suffering from it and the family that it has to watch them go through it.
At first my grandma seemed to be handling the disease well. She seemed fine on the outside and she could still remember lots. Then as the years went on, he smile became less and less. She physically started to decline. Names became forgotten. And finally that *twinkle* that always seemed to be in her eyes filled with warmth? Gone.

My grandma fought this horrible disease for years with as much strength and courage as she could. There were good days and there were bad. Soon the number of bad days started to outweigh the good. But even in the harder times, my grandma still managed to shine through in the smallest moments. Those were the moments that meant everything. The little nod of appreciation, the words she could manage to get out and most of all, the smiles that she would still manage to get through.

My grandma battled Alzheimer's for 5 courageous years. Even in her final days she managed to give our family one last gift. She was able to bring us all together to celebrate her life, memories, for us to give thanks for everything she has done and to tell her how much we love her. And just when the love was at its height, after a day spent surrounded by family, food, laughs and fun, just as she always loved...she passed away peacefully.

Thankful 
My grandma leaves behind a legacy of care, good food, memories and most of all: love. She's missed every day but we're so thankful for the life she helped give to all of us. On a personal level, it was fitting that the final great grandchild she got to meet was my own son. She cared for me as a baby and was able to see me grow into an adult and have a child of my own. I'm thankful that Ben got to have an entire 18 months and 4 days with her great grandma, too. Since we lived so close we'd visit her almost every day. Ben would immediately always go up to her while she was sitting in her chair and pat her leg. We'd put on his nursery rhyme videos and they'd "watch" together. Often times, Ben would look over and smile at her with the same twinkle in his eyes that she'd have.
Thankful that Ben got to meet his Great Grandma.
I'm just so thankful for my grandma for not only caring for me when I was a child, but for also all the lessons in life she bestowed upon me over the years. My grandma was my heart and she'll forever be missed. My world may be a little less bright because she's no longer in it, but the memories, the laughs, the love will live on forever. Grandma, I love you, forever and always. Thank you for being my eternal sunshine. 🌞
Rest in Peace, Grandma. I love you.


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Maira Gall