Last week, I received a message from my cousin asking for my father to get hold of the family. His mother had had a stroke and would not be with us much longer. That night, at 11:52pm, my last grandparent passed away peacefully. My father’s mother was someone I had met maybe a handful of times. I barely remember her as she always lived far away. Now that she’s gone, I have to wonder if I, as an adult, should’ve tried harder. I shed some tears thinking of her, then I wondered about the funeral, knowing full well that with everything going on, it would be impossible for us to attend.
Family can be hard to navigate, especially from a distance.
We have moved far from home. It’s not the first time I have lived far from family, but as a mother, it looks different. My children know and love both sets of grandparents. Even when it seems hard, I try to keep those relationships alive and thriving. My parents are unable to travel due to health conditions and we have not seen them in person in more than two years, and now, with the virus, I don’t know when we will see them next. My husband’s parents have visited frequently. I sit here missing all of them and hoping to see them all soon.
I had a great relationship with my maternal grandmother and her passing — when I was 18 — left an ache in my heart.
Now I wonder if my own children will get enough time with their grandparents. Will they get to have that kind of phenomenal relationship I had with my own beloved grandma? I’ve come to realize that it’s my responsibility to make that happen if it’s something that I want for them. It’s hard, but it’s so incredibly valuable. So from hundreds of miles away, I make phone calls for the kids so they can speak to their grandparents, even when the kids don’t really want to talk on the phone. There are video chats when we can make it work. Both sets of grandparents send care packages and both try to stay involved, and I am very grateful for that. Still, I wish it were as easy for me as it was for my own parents with my grandmother living only 20 minutes away. She was always able to visit or vice-versa once I was driving. I miss that and I miss it for my own children as well. There are no impromptu meet ups or sleepovers like there used to be when we lived closer.
When I was a little older than my own children, my parents would send me to my grandma’s to clean.
Oddly enough, some of my greatest memories are of cleaning. I wish I could give my kids that closeness. It’s going to be different for them. It’s going to take effort. I’m still hoping for them to know the same love I had growing up. It helped shape who I am today. I hope that when my kids’ grandparents pass, they have an ache in their hearts. I don’t wish them the pain, but I wish them a meaningful relationship with their grandparents. I hope they don’t feel an emptiness of regret of not knowing them. So, despite any obstacles that may come, I’m going to push for those relationships to grow. I will nurture the love between my children and their grandparents every chance I get.