Last Saturday, my grandma did just that. This is her last sky. And all of my favorite photos of that evening have birds. Far away birds flying towards the sunset. Which is perfect. The lighthouse bird is in the middle section of clouds.
These birds are not alone. Again, they are difficult to see in the small image, but trust me, they soar just above the horizon. Into this beautiful light.
Many of us in the family happened to be in Santa Cruz that weekend. We heard my aunt and uncle and cousins from Washington were going to be in town, so we all joined up. We had the merry chaos of cousins and laughter and loud voices. The hotel had to call and shush us twice.
My grandmother moved into a nursing home a few months ago. She was 89 with dementia. She had numerous strokes over the years. Most news about her was difficult. Falls and confusion. Then, Friday, the news was serious. "You better come now."
My grandma was English. She married a Dutch soldier (my grandpa) and moved to Holland. Then the family moved to Oakland, CA. She had six children by then, and another in America. She was strong. And resourceful. And a great inspiration. Her entire world was family. Dinners from scratch. Holidays made magical. And a constant commitment to togetherness. She was happiest surrounded by all of us, children and grandchildren, later, great-grandchildren.
She taught me how to knit with her sister, Auntie Mary. She always had time to sit and listen to the latest stories. She believed in tea-time, serving on little plastic trays with cookies. She loved games, especially word games. She unscrambled the impossible puzzles in the Sunday paper. She played a wicked game of Scrabble.
She will be so missed.
I can't write more right now. Too emotional :)
Time passes so quickly. And remembering her, I feel the loss of all of those stories. Those times spent together. She was happiest surrounded by love. Surrounded by noisy laughter. Surrounded by family.
Here is my grandma a few years ago at a typical family gathering (far right).
I was relieved for her, joining my grandpa and her eldest daughter (who passed on years ago) for tea in those lovely clouds. But I am also sad for us. Passing her on her story, one memory at a time.
Happy travels, Grandma.