Today is Thanksgiving Day in Canada, and, besides filling up on turkey, I’ve been giving a little bit of thought to thanks.
First off, a few of the things I’m thankful for this year:
1. Eight years of marriage to my wonderful, supportive, creative-minded husband. (We got married on Thanksgiving weekend, which, consequently, is an easy way to remember the date, and to be thankful for each other every year).
2. My two most beautiful children. Their personalities just glow, and I am so thrilled to get to know them more each day.
3. My family. My parents, and my sisters, and my elderly grandparents, including my 96-year-old grandmother, who I recently went to visit in Saskatchewan.
Visiting my grandmother could have been hard. I took my baby with me to see my grandmother, perhaps for the last time. It was a lovely visit, and my daughter took her first real steps right there, in my grandma’s room! It was a very special visit, imbued with the beauty of the prairie scenery, and heightened by the contemplation of life and death.
While there, my aunt said something that resonated with me. “Old people really help you realize what is important.” I’ve been thinking a lot about that, especially in light of Thanksgiving. And it really is true.
My grandmother recently fell, and broke her pelvis. She could have simply given up, and allowed herself to rest in her last days. But, there she was, walking the halls in her walker everyday, because that is what she has been asked to do. Because that is what is needed. Because that is what you do. My grandmother grew up farming on the prairies, and, perhaps, this upbringing has allowed her to become the person she is. On a farm, there are always things that need doing. And you do them, not because you always want to, but because they need doing. Her dogged determination, her discipline, so impressed me (and made me realize, among other things, how small are my excuses for not exercising).
I went to visit my grandmother with hesitations, wondering how she would be, if it would be hard to say goodbye. But, when I got there, she was the same, wonderful, strong woman she always has been. And, instead of trying to say all kinds of things, and fill our time together, I just enjoyed spending some quiet time together. Enjoyed watching her enjoy my daughter, her great-granddaughter. And I realized that, instead of desperately trying to ask all the things I wanted to ask, I could look back on her life, and learn from her actions. Past and present.
Watching her, I got the feeling that my wonderful grandmother was at peace about death. At peace about death, and the life she has lived. It seemed to clear to me, that, at the end of her life, she was happy with the simple life she has lived. The people she has loved, and those that have loved her. And she doesn’t seem to regret the things not done, or the goals not achieved. Because the simple beauty of watching her great-granddaughter learn to walk trumps all of that.
I hope one day to be ready to go. To have lived a rich, full, life, and to have people who love me to survive me. I hope to be as blessed, and as determined as my grandmother. And to be as full of life, even at the end. And, in some way, for my actions to be an example to others, too.
This year, I am giving thanks for the richness of the life that she has lived, and the richness of the life I now live. And I realize, more than ever, that it is the people that make one’s life meaningful. And all the other stuff just falls away.
So, I am thankful for all of the moments I get with my family, and the richness of those moments. Knowing my children make me a better person, and my grandmother does, too.