Today my grandma, gingin Joyce, passed away.
Every kid has a quirky name they call their grandparents. For me, I've always called my grandmas "gingin". You say it like you take the "a" out of again and say it twice.
I've been thinking about gingin this week and things I remember, attributes of her character and our relationship. I was grateful to see her one last time through FaceTime (we're 2000 miles away and under quarantine) and tell her she's awesome. In our last video call where she was responsive she blew me raspberries. She was always silly like that.
So...I figured the best way I have right now to celebrate her, is to share some of my best memories with her and what I want to carry with me.
The Things I'll Never Forget
The very first thoughts that come to mind for my GinGin start with food. I remember her banana pudding on 4th of July, hamburgers in September to celebrate the last days of summer (and my cousin's birthday) biscuits on Christmas Eve, collard greens and meatloaf on New Years.
I remember realizing one day that all of that delicious food was just an easy way to make sure our family got together and had time to be with each other. I saw my family all the time. I am closer to my parents, my sister, my aunt and uncle, my cousins and a bunch of family than most people are able to say they are to their immediate family.
I remember that anytime I stayed with her and my papa as a kid and looked for her at night time she'd be reading her bible in bed. She played a big role in planting seeds for me to figure out who Jesus is.
I remember her reciting Psalm 23 through my whole life, the chapter about trusting God through the hard stuff. The one about God being all we need. The one that focuses on goodness and mercy. I remember thinking as she got sick, that this is the verse that she probably still recited in her heart as she was going through it all.
I remember how she always either laughed hysterically at stuff I did or said or would hold her hand to her mouth and go "hm" with her eyebrows a little raised so I'd know maybe it wasn't a good idea. I think I have a big, joyful personality because of how much fun I'd have with her and my papa.
I don't remember her getting onto me for doing stupid stuff even though I know I did a lot of it, she usually cut me a lot of slack.
I remember having conversations about life and knowing I could tell her stuff and knowing I never felt judged about bringing up things that were uncomfortable. I specifically remember sitting on the side porch at their lake house and having a conversation in a hammock but I don't remember what it was about. The thing I remember is just how close I felt to her. We had a lot of talks like that, just the two of us.
I also remember that it was rare that I'd wake up before she did, ever. She usually had more done before 7am than most people would get done in a whole day. Waking up early to do the important things that needed to be done is something she did my whole childhood. It's something I've strived for myself but can't be as consistent as it seemed she was. She was always consistent.
I think that's I why I always felt like I could be comfortably me and never felt hurried with her. Life was something she seemed to just kinda take as it came at her, but I think that was because she'd get the important stuff done before I'd wake up and make sure she was present when I was around.
The thing we had most in common was just that we loved to laugh, it didn't matter how hard or bad things were. Her loving to laugh also meant I'd do more things to make her laugh, which led to me being someone who generally can take a lot in stride.
She always tells all of her grandkids: "don't forget who you are or whose you are." A while back modified it a bit and it's been a driving piece of discovering who I am: "be intentional about who you want to be by knowing what you believe". It's shaped my personal introspection a lot in the past decade.
Remembering Her By Remembering Who I Am
I think the best way for me to celebrate my GinGin is to carry her legacy through my life by being the person that she played a part in me becoming.
Specifically, these are the characteristics she helped plant seeds for that I'll strive to have and to cherish:
- kindness to love on people when they need it
- being a connector who makes sure there's space and opportunity for people to get together and enjoy being together
- consistency in the things I care about and consistency in being there for the people I care about
- authenticity in who I am, in finding who I am, then knowing who I am, then being who I am.
- gratitude that knew no bounds.
- I'll never forget who I am and the family I came from.
I am grateful to have had her in my life. I am grateful to have spent 36 years knowing her and experiencing her love and joy. I am grateful that she'll live on through my life and the lives of all the people who she touched in her life on this earth.
I am grateful.