(Pictured: Avi meets his Grand-Grandma Shirley)
Last week, I missed a blog post. When I started this endeavor just a couple of months ago, I knew it would be challenging to write content on time every week. As this is not my full time job, I try to find time to write in the early morning hours, during nap time on the weekends, or after Avi goes to sleep. This week, however; life took priority.
Early Thursday morning, our family lost an exceptional woman, Jared's grandmother, Shirley. I first met Shirley four short years ago - on my first trip to Jared's hometown - for her 89th birthday. At this point, her health was already failing and so I never really had the opportunity to know the 'real' Shirley; the grandma that Jared grew up with. But through the loving reminiscing that occurred all week, I had the opportunity to learn more about what a special person she was. A loving and devoted wife, mother, and grandmother. A pianist and lover of music. She had a kind heart and never said a mean word about anyone. She drove carpool for her grandkids and their friends. No one would call Shirley a chef, but one of her family's most indelible memories is of a bowl tomato soup that was always served with a quarter hidden underneath the bowl. She was my mother-in-law's best friend and confidant. As Jared's cousin simply put it - she was the matriarch of the family and her presence was always felt. One of the things I enjoyed hearing about the most was her sense of humor. Every single person who spoke of Shirley spoke of her fun, sometimes inappropriate, sense of humor. I feel blessed that I knew Grandma Shirley for even a short while. And even more blessed that Avi had a chance to meet his great-grandmother.
I think that of the natural reactions to losing someone special is self-reflection. What will be my legacy? How will people remember me when I'm gone? For me, it brought up a specific question - what kind of mother do I want to be?
So I spent some time thinking about this question and came up with a few thoughts. Not at all inclusive of everything, but a start. I want to be remembered as a kind, supportive mother. A mother who gently guides without pushing too hard. A mother who finds the balance between when to be flexible and when to draw a hard line. A mother who is open-minded and accepting; even when my own ideas are challenged. I want to be the type of mother who my son can turn to and trust. A mother who can let go when the time comes. A mother who walks the line between parent and friend.
A tall order, I know. I am not so naive as to think that I will be this mother every day. I will fall short many times and I will make mistakes. But I will strive to reach this ideal.
There were many things said about Shirley this past week, but a constant theme throughout was of Shirley the Mother and Shirley the Grandmother. These were integral aspects of her identity; she loved her family deeply and unconditionally. I'm grateful that she has inspired me to think about the type of mother I want to be and that she provided such a beautiful and loving model. I'm grateful for the love she gave to me, to Jared, and to his family. May her memory be for a blessing to all who knew and loved her.