February 12, 2003. The day was exactly five years ago, yet how clearly it stands out in my mind.
After a week and a half of pleading and wrestling with God, looking for miracles, and holding onto hope, my heavenly Father called someone very precious to me Home.
This is the person who was a part of nearly every good memory I have from birth to that day in February. This is the person who taught me so much about love, life, friendship, and compassion. This person was my grandmother.
Words can't describe the feeling devastation that was felt when she suddenly took ill. Just the night before we were laughing and playing games and planning our summer trip together. Then suddenly I'm hearing medical terms I'd never heard before. Words that were complicated, but all meant the same thing: medically speaking there wasn't much hope.
So for ten turbulent days our lives revolved around a hospital room, praying for a miracle and trying to deny what seemed inventible.
And then the moment came. When she made the transition from this world to the next. And her family was left behind feeling such a profound sense of loss.
But over the years while I've grieved for her loss and still do, I've also come to realize that she has left me with so much. She taught me so many lessons, that while most were never spoken, resonate so loudly. And while writing them all out would take much more space than what's available here, I thought I would share a few.
She taught me about lasting friendship. When she moved to Timmins she became friends with a neighbour. That friendship lasted for over 45 years and was a stronger bond than I've seen exist in most families.
She taught me about compassion. Often she would quote that verse in Isaiah that says "share your bread with the hungry and shelter the homeless and poor" and she lived it.
She taught me about the power of marriage. She and my grandfather were married over fifty years and it's because of their example that I still believe that a good marriage is possible when two people are willing to give.
She taught me that risks are there for the taking. She was a war bride who married my grandfather (a Canadian solider) after knowing him for only a few months and then moved to a country where she knew no one and was well aware it would be many years before she could return back home. But she took a step of faith and didn't let anything hold her back from what she knew she needed to do.
She taught me the value of laughter. Too often it becomes easy to stop laughing when times get tough and if anyone had the right to stop laughing it would have been her. I can't comprehend what it would have been like growing up in a country that was occupied by the Nazi's during World War 2. But she didn't let her life experiences there or here stop her from laughing and living life to the fullest.
And she taught me the value of family. While I was growing up we referred to my grandparents house as "grand central station" and in many ways it was and still is. Their door was always open and we always took advantage of that. Whether it was spur of the moment visits or planned family dinners or evening get-togethers, something was always happening. Even on our family vacations and our weeks spent at the cottage, my grandparents were there and it made those times that much more enjoyable. In good times and bad, there was never a doubt that their door would be open to us and I can't imagine what growing up would have been like without them both in my life.
So today while I miss her, I'm also thankful for the legacy and lessons that she left me with. And I can only hope that one day I'm a fraction of the person she was and leave the kind of impact that she did.