As some of you know, my grandmother passed away recently.
She was in her early nineties, had raised six children, spoiled several grandchildren, fostered countless animals and through it all was married to the same man, my grandfather, for more than fifty years.
They were truly meant to be together, and after his death, my grandmother was never quite the same. Oh, she mustered on. Her New England upbringing and deep Catholic faith wouldn’t allow anything else. But it was clear much of the joy in her life had drained away with him.
My grandmother suffered with heart failure and kidney failure for seven months; stubbornly refusing to believe the end might be coming. She always overcame whatever troubles life through at her. But eventually peace and acceptance came over her, and it was shortly after that she made the trip over into the afterlife and, I know, rejoined my grandfather.
She lived a rich, full life and left behind many legacies. She was a woman of deep faith and a enormous heart for animals. It with animals that I most closely associate her, which is a passion I share. My childhood dog adored going to Grandma’s house. He, along with all of her dogs, got a spoonful of ice cream every night before bed, which was something unheard of at home for him.
But she cared more than just about her pets, although that would have been enough. The wild creatures outside were always safe under her wings and she did what she could to care for them. A hurt field mouse found by one of the children was rehabilitated and released back into the wild… and never mind that it was instantly snatched by a hawk; she still did everything she could for it.
The wild birds outside were cared for in equal measure with all the other animals. She would even save scraps of bread especially for the crows to eat… the crows, which are a bird I like a lot too, but many find obnoxious. But she wanted them to be fed and cared for as well. Bird feeders and baths constantly dotted her yard, and little bird decals were placed in her windows to protect the creatures from flying into them by mistake. This is what I think of most when I think of my grandmother. Someone who went far, far out of her way to care for the animals and creatures around her.
At her funeral, I felt moved to do a photo in tribute to her… although that day I came down with a cold and subsequent fever, so the project had to be shelved briefly. But as soon as I was well enough, I found the bag of bird seed buried in my garage and set to work.
I know my grandmother is better off now, and that she is finally reunited with my grandfather; holding hands once again in heaven. Death comes to us all. At least she lived a good life, and had someone waiting for her on the other side. Someone who loved her deeply.