Thursday, November 26, 2009

I am my grandmother's granddaughter

On November 12, 2009, I experienced something I had never walked through before: the death of my grandmother, Ann Dixon.  She was 93 years old.  Of late, she constantly told us she was ready to move on in her eternal journey.  We would joking tell her that clearly it wasn't time, since she was still with us.  My uncle had a standing comment when he visited, "Mama, if you don't get you wish, I will see you next time."

Momsie (everyone's nickname for my grandmother) was a giant of a woman. She charted the course of her family from a poor, inner city community in Kingston, Jamaica, to the suburban residential area of Hope Pastures, Jamaica.  A woman who had not completed 8th grade, motivated children and grandchildren to have high school, college and graduate level education (my uncle Patrick even had 2 graduate degrees!)   She was a housekeeper, then a home-maker after having her children, yet she always found a way to have more than enough.  She was a dressmaker, a clothing designer, a culinary expert (the best black fruit cake ever), the ultimate entrepreneur.  Among her children and grandchildren are several business owners, culinary experts and artistic expressionists.  The very best black fruit cake is now done by my Aunty Joy, her daughter.

I have lived with Momsie (and in the latter years, she with me) for more than half of my life. Some days, I saw caring for her as an act of joyful service, not dependent on what she did or said.   Somedays, I took 'an eye for an eye'.  I was impatient and unkind with her, judging her for not being more patient and kind (go figure!). I'm glad that I have been pretty aware of these choices and took many other opportunities to be loving to her, even in the face of what I deemed to be her 'failings'.  After her passing, a very strange thing happened in my thinking!  Her 'failings' became transformed into strengths!  Her nagging became persistence and love, her sometimes 'insensitive' speech became a sign of her love and straight forwardness.

If, in a moment, I could do that mental switch, powered perhaps by hindsight, I can also have those thoughts in the present moment, in the face of the 'failings'.  Her passing reminded me that I could choose the most helpful beliefs in any moment, no matter what was happening.  The beliefs I chose in her passing supported other nurturing beliefs that I have and that help me really appreciate her gift to my life.

I experienced an increasing awareness of the persistent love she showed me and the rest of her family.  This helped me to see more clearly my own persistent love as something I modeled (perhaps unknowingly) from her.  In fact, much of what I like about how I engage my life and the world,  I credit to my grandmother.  She was an energetic, passionate, mover and shaker and so am I.  I am my grandmother's granddaughter.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Today, tell some people how (get specific) they have been a gift to your life.  Actually, do it everyday.

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