The Great Grandfather we lost was Korean. He lived in Alaska. He possessed such a wide, deep, vast expanse of wisdom and knowledge and I'd always hoped he could someday share it with my children. Alas, too much worked against us for it to happen. There was a language barrier, distance, and failing health and it wasn't to be. His wife, the boys' Great Grandmother, has dementia and anything she might have shared with the boys is gone, for the most part. When history and wisdom doesn't get passed down a connection is broken and I don't think it can be regained. I'm sad about that.
The one remaining Great Grandparent is my own Grandmother. She's nearly 105 yet most days she's sharper than me - not that that takes much. I'm so grateful my boys have lived their lives thus far with her in it, and I hope we have more time yet with her. Every visit with her is a memory we all take with us. Makes us richer. Makes us understand the value of experience and seniority, the delicacy of life and the importance of savoring every moment with someone as if it's your last.
I'm so thankful my children have birthmothers who love them so much; who made the ultimate and most incredibly difficult, selfless decision to give their child a shot in life. Never do my children have to wonder if they weren't wanted, if they were given away. Their birthmothers and their birthmothers' families make certain they know otherwise, by their actions and their words.
We will miss our Korean Great Grandfather even though we didn't know him well. He held a spot in our family tree. He was an important character in the story of our lives, maybe Cole's in particular.
We also lost my Aunt Mary (that's pronounced Aint Mayree). To say that lost was profound is so incomplete as to nearly be offensive. She had an intense and far-reaching impact on the lives of her family. She was the sister of my Grandmother. The younger sister. Aunt Mary and Uncle Bob (the brother of my Grandfather - that's a story for a post all on its own) never had any children, so they made their nieces and nephews their children. We all spent childhood summers at Aunt Mary and Uncle Bob's. They lived on "the old home place", a sprawling, peaceful Georgia farm of hundreds of acres, mature forests, trails, blackberry bushes, lakes, ponds, garden plots, pastures, fruit trees and barns that they played in as children. They had built a home there but also preserved all the old buildings on the place. They had cows, horses, and occasionally pigs. They always had two border collies and one was always named Sam. As long as I remember going there, there was always a furry black, blonde and white border collie named Sam.
My cousin Jeff eulogized Aunt Mary. It was by far the best, most appropriate, most endearing tribute ever given at a funeral where I've been in attendance. I have a copy of it coming to me. I'll share parts of it with you when it arrives. Jeff reminisced about how Aunt Mary taught us all what clean really meant - as we all apparently had erroneous definitions prior to her lessons. He told of her kindness and how many other kindnesses she was responsible for that no one would ever know about. He talked about her spirit, her contagious laugh, her financial shrewdness as well as her financial generosity. He talked about how many things we all learned just by being there with them - how to tell when a horse was getting ready to roll, how to jump off a horse, and how, in so many more ways than one, to get right back on the horse. During the ten or fifteen minutes he spoke, he brought back such intense, accurate, and delicious memories of Aunt Mary, and as I looked around at all the people who loved Aunt Mary and were gathered around her coffin, it was obvious Jeff brought the essence of Aunt Mary back for them too.
I'm so thankful to have had her in my life. I'm thankful she played such a great role in my life and provided me with one of the many models I was fortunate enough to have of a fiercely strong, joyous woman.
We have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season.