Friday, August 7, 2009

A Beautiful Life

It's been a rough week. My Grannie passed away somewhat unexpectedly last Sunday morning, and we laid her to rest Thursday. Her husband of 64 years, my Grandpa, died this past December, and my sweet Grannie was never quite the same once the love of her life was gone. They were madly in love, from the day they met at a USO dance until the day they each left this life. Even in their eighties, Grandpa was still writing her sweet, funny poems and bringing flowers to his sweetheart.

Over the last few years it really began to sink in with me how lucky I am to have had these two special people in my life. They were always my loving grandparents, but as I grew older I began to realize what amazing people they were too. They raised five boys together, my fantastic dad and my wonderful uncles, and they passed on a legacy that I see in each one of them, but I see in myself as well. Some of the things that I'm most proud of in myself began with them. They raised their sons to be honest, to work hard, respect others, give generously, to be kind and forgiving, to live by faith, put others ahead of themselves, and to be the best people they could be. They didn't just speak those words, they lived them. I can think of so many times that they went out of their way to make someone else's life a little easier. In losing them, I heard even more stories of their generosity, and realized again just how fortunate I am to have been a part of their lives.

They lived in the same home for all of my life, and it was always filled with love, laughter and kindness. There was always teasing amongst my uncles, and I can remember my Grannie playfully admonishing "Don't torment your mother" at just about every family gathering we had. She had a quiet way, but when she spoke, you listened. She was graceful, accepting, full of love, and so very special. As I got older I saw so much in her that I wanted to have in myself. As I would visit with my Grannie at family gatherings, I would spend time with her talking about life's latest obstacle, and I would always leave encouraged and reminded that all I have to be is who I am, and that is enough, no matter what life throws at me. I would leave knowing how very much I am loved, just as I am.

My Grandpa did many things in his life, he was a bombardier in World War II, he was an engineer in the oil fields, and later on he was a framer. He loved art, and there were always beautiful pieces with interesting stories hanging in their home. Some of my favorites were a drawing of the house my Grannie grew up in, a portrait of my Great-Grandfather, and another of my cousin as a child. Grannie and Grandpa were friends with artists and so many special things were captured by them. Grandpa's family was from Italy and Sicily, and I remember this huge piece he had framed that explained Italian Christmas traditions. I always loved that, and a few years back when I asked my dad where it was, he said Grandpa had given it away. That was just like him. If you said you liked a painting in the house, he was very likely to take it right off the wall and try to send it home with you. He also framed mirrors, and on the back he would write, "Life is beautiful, look and see." He truly believed that was where the beauty was in life - in each of us, in our potential to be good, and kind, and loving.

I took a few art classes at a gallery near their home when I was little, and Grandpa framed this one particular monstrosity I had painted after I brought it home feeling so proud of what I had created. I remember feeling so talented and so special when he said that it just had to be framed. Looking at it now, I just have to laugh. It was an abstract painting of a Mesa, and let me tell you, that thing was huge and not so pretty. But Grandpa told me it was beautiful and he framed it like a priceless work of art. For years, I was convinced I was the next Georgia O'Keefe. That encouragement and enthusiasm helped me to pursue something that I really loved doing, even if I wasn't the best at it.

Grannie and Grandpa were masters at the art of showing love, and they were just as good at letting you know they were proud of you. Life will be lacking something without them, but they have left so many wonderful things behind in the way they lived their lives. I'm proud to be their granddaughter, and I'm proud to carry on the good they brought to life. I only hope I can do it half as well as they did.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful tribute... I love the "Life is beautiful, look and see" quote.