Posts Tagged ‘Gramma Irene’

Remembering Gramma Irene

My mom’s mom passed away in the wee hours of Thursday morning in my Aunt Gail’s home, where Gramma Irene spent the past two years living with my cousins and Uncle Bret. I was initially a bit surprised to hear the news, because I usually receive some sort of visitation or warning just prior, during or immediately after someone passes. This happens consistently, even with people I don’t know very well, so yesterday felt a little surreal until later in the evening when I mentioned to my sister that it seemed so weird not to have known.

My sister replied that she had felt her — feeling compelled to tell Gramma Irene stories last Friday. I then realized that I, too, had felt Gramma’s presence this past Tuesday while attending the Christmas concert at Goshen College. I even blogged about the audience exquisitely singing the Hallelujah Chorus. What I didn’t say in my blog, but did mention to David and think about for days was how much that experience reminded me of my maternal grandmother. I was seated next to a dear 82-year-old friend of mine, and her surprising soprano voice belting out the Hallelujah Chorus sounded so much like Gramma Irene that I teared up. All week long, I’ve heard a blend of my friend and my grandmother singing through my head.

In 2009, while renting a home in Sonoma County, CA with my then-husband, now ex-husband, Stephen, I wrote a post with a little tribute to Gramma Irene inside of it, and it seems appropriate to share her part here:

I have always wanted a rose garden. My maternal grandmother lived in Irvine, CA for most of my youth, and she had the most beautiful roses in full bloom on her patio. A long-time soloist, she would sing her arias while pruning away, offering me, her sixteen-year-old granddaughter, mimosas and chocolate for breakfast. In retrospect, Gramma Irene was a pretty cool grandma!

My grandmother has since moved somewhere that maintains the rose gardens for her, but she still has lovely rose pillows and garden paintings in her apartment. When Stephen and I moved to our new home in Sonoma County, one of the first things I noticed was a woman singing arias while she gardened. It totally reminded me of my grandma! As things turned out, we have our own rose bushes, too, many of which needed pruning. I finally went outside today with some pruning sheers — my first ever — and had a go at them. I think I did pretty well, but we’ll see how many new blooms we get. 🙂

While trimming off the old blooms, I remembered some old thoughts I’d had regarding the whole concept of pruning: the idea that in order to grow, sometimes we need to cut back more than we think is necessary. Some of those leaves looked just fine to me, but I needed to prune them back to the first 5-patch if I wanted the bush to continue blooming. During life coaching sessions, sometimes that same principle holds true. Parts of someone’s life may look just fine, but in order to invite the big blossoming, they still need some cutting out and reshaping. I love how nature reminds us of the abundance of life — that we can remove parts that sap energy in preparation for the tremendous blooms in store for us. We need not fear some discipline or change. Giant, fragrant petals are on the way!

While pruning roses, I started thinking about a Garden Paradise, and quickly those thoughts turned to humanity’s attempts to return to that original Garden Paradise — our personal Eden.

Fast forward 4.5 years, and I now have my own, quite large, garden, a new home and a completely new love life. I had intended to plant rose bushes this Fall, but I ran out of time. Now I know why. Gramma Irene, I’ll be planting those rose bushes in memory of you.

I’ve lost two grandmothers this year — 101 year old Grandma Van in April and 91-year-old Gramma Irene yesterday. I shouldn’t really say “lost,” since I carry pieces of each of them with me, and I know I can speak with the dead whenever we both want those lines of communication open. My dad brought me little houses from Grandma Van, and they now house the faeries on our front porch. (For real — you could feel the energy shift when I put them on the window sills.) When I see our front porch, I think of Grandma Van, and whenever I see or smell those rose bushes, I will remember Gramma Irene.

Blessings and love to both of you. Thanks for bringing so much magic, beauty and love to my life!

me, Gramma Irene, Grandma Van, my brother Craig and my sister, Erica

me, Gramma Irene, Grandma Van, my brother Craig and my sister, Erica