This month marks the fifth anniversary of my mother’s passing. My father had passed six years earlier. For many, the death of a grandparent is the first grief inducing event of it’s kind. As I mentioned in my earlier post, my experience of grandparents was not like others. Though I had mourned the loss of my grandmother, my Aunt Ann, Ellen’s grandparents, and other relatives whom I loved, I cannot say I experienced the same level of grief in my life as when my parents died.
The severance of my earthly relationship with my parents blessed me with an elevation of subconscious memory to consciousness, as though a movie reel turned on in my mind. I began replaying clip after clip of our lives together. I saw scenes of a younger me in which I was just too young, selfish, ignorant, or foolish to understand what was going on or how my words and actions impacted my parents and family. The older me was able to look back on those moments with a new understanding of myself and my parents.
In some ways, this reflection added to my grief. In others, I felt like I knew and respected my parents even more. Much of what they had suffered for love of me, I was suffering for the love of my own family. Many times I spoke to my parents as I watched those reels. I asked them, “Please forgive me.” I told them, “I understand now. I love you. I miss you.” I still speak to them today and how I long to have had more time with them in the flesh.
Very shortly after my father and mother died, there were events that brought me to tears in the middle of the work day. For my father, it was the gift of a tree from my colleagues, a weeping cherry, which I planted in his memory. He was quite fond of the cherry tree in his own front yard, so I planted one in mine. For my mother, I encountered a song, “One Moment More” by Mindy Smith. Though I don’t listen to country music, I tripped over this song on a Spotify channel I was listening to.
I think it struck me pretty hard because I had missed an opportunity to speak to my mom on the night before she died. She called me on the feast day of Saint Gregory the Great and left me a message. She said that she called to wish me a “happy feast day” (a custom among Catholics) and to tell me, “You are my ‘Gregory the Great’.” I didn’t call her back right away, and when I remembered, it was late. She didn’t stay up late anymore, so I decided not to bother her that night. I wish I had. The next day, the moment was gone and she passed.
The good news: As a Christian, I know my relationship with my parents persists in and through the person of Jesus Christ, who incorporated us into His Body, the Church. I have faith that as members of that Mystical Body, my parents hear me and, though I cannot hear them, they respond. For a time we are physically separated, but the promises of Christ give me assurance and hope that our relationship continues. Though I do not take for granted the graces of heaven, I trust that He who began a good work in me with be faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6). I am eager for that day. I have many moments I want to redeem.
Do you have memories of parents and grandparents like mine? I’d like to read about them in the comments. If you liked this post, click like and share this content with your friends and family.