When I think of Memorial Day it is natural to think of all who do/have fought for the country freedom. Am blessed to know many… In my immediate family it would include my nephew currently serving in the Marines. My father and father-in-law also both served their country. So thank you! (p.s.) My dad will always be my hero far beyond the time he served his country for the time he served my mother. I will have to do a whole blog for him on his upcoming birthday!
When I think of Memorial Day, I think of the people in my life growing up that fought an everyday battle.
May is a rough month of memory for me… Last week May 21 would have been my Mom’s 16th year since she arrived into heaven and yesterday May 26 would have been my Grandma Frazee’s 14th year since she arrived into heaven. It so feels like yesterday that they were physically here, but maybe because everyday of my life something reminds me of them. I have become so emotional lately that I am sure I will sob my way through this entire blog. But they definitely helped form who I am today… but also sure they would snatch me up sometimes and Grandma may even get out a switch.
They taught me about being strong when the world crashes down around you. My mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when she was pregnant with me (or close to that time). I remember her bravery in always trying to make things seem okay even when she had to drag her legs to walk. I remember how she would go to the bathroom and because she was so weak to get back up she may sit there all day till we got home and never complained. I remember how she fought to not use a cane even if it meant sometimes crawling to get around. I remember when I got engaged she fought back tears because she would not be able to go gown shopping and be a “real mom” (I fixed that and went only once by myself and tried on two gowns decided which one I loved and had a family friend make it.) I remember how long she fought to drive until it was no longer safe and then fought to make me drive. I remember taking care of her and her still trying as hard as she could to keep doing things for herself. I remember her sitting in her wheelchair barely able to feed herself but give us her love and blessing to go to work. I remember her having her stroke and insisted that I still went on my trip to Toronto and she would be okay and be there when I got back. I remembered the day that she passed away at home and she would wait until we all got there – and she did. I remember all our talks about life, I could and would tell her everything. I don’t remember her complaining much except some moments of frustration that she couldn’t do more for us. I don’t remember her loosing her faith despite loosing her ability to care for herself. I don’t remember her giving up without a knock-out fight. She stayed strong, put on the smile, kept believing, and fought the good fight!
My Grandma Frazee also taught me that same fighting spirit when my Pap died of prostate cancer in 1979. But probably a stronger lesson was when she finally got brave enough to stay by herself at night (about 1986 when I went on a date, until then I stayed every night with her once my brothers grew up). It was probably within the first handful of times that she stayed by herself that an arsonist burnt down the barn. She stayed strong. I remember her having a hip replacement and shortly after getting on the floors at my mom and dad’s to scrub the carpets by hand. But strength was all she knew as a farmer’s wife. When they had to sell the farm because of Pap’s failing health, she stayed strong. When she buried her husband and her only child before she passed, she stayed strong. Even up until her final weeks on this earth, she fought hard with a smile. She was admitted to the hospital the day I was to come home with Mary. The xrays showed what we thought was a minor surgery, but I knew she said she would live only long enough to see my child born. That morning of the discharge for us I spent much time in the ED with Grandma. They had to take her to surgery… so as soon as Mary was officially discharged I went straight to the operating rooms and handed Mary over to a nurse who carried her into the OR room so Grandma could meet her – Mary, named after my mom (her beloved daughter) – she was what she was living for. Grandma fought for another week and ½ on the ventilator as the surgery was bigger than expected. Everyday I took Mary to the hospital with me waiting for her to wake up. Once she woke up and came off the ventilator, everyday I took Mary to the hospital so Grandma Frazee could hold her. They were so at peace with each other. Mary spent many hours in Grandma’s arms. We then went to Rehab and spent every day, and finally she came home to the Personal Care Home. Grandma told me it would be too hard for take care of her and baby Mary, I assured her I could. Just a few days after and a few days prior to me returning to work, I got a call that she wasn’t responding. I went to see her immediately and she woke up and asked for her baby Mary about 9 weeks old. I laid Mary in bed with her and went out to call family and returned to find Grandma had passed peacefully holding my Mary as she went to heaven to meet her Mary…. She fought and smiled and kept the faith (i.e. Mary’s middle name).
I look at their lives and realize how much like them I can be… or at least hope I am. Most would say I talk as much as they did (and I am pretty sure Grandma Frazee passed that to Mary in her last breath when I left the room – lol). I miss the wet (from rootbeer barrels or Brach butterscotch candy) kisses from Grandma Frazee that she always had in her apron pockets. I miss talking to my mom about everything and even if I didn’t listen to her advice I felt better. In my heart I know they are proud of me, but there are sometimes I know they would handle things differently. Sometimes it is that split second after I make a decision or say something to someone or hit send on an email that I think they would have handled it so much better. I want to think that when times get tough I fight hard for what matters… I fight hard for what / who I believe in… but more importantly that in the midst of life’s battles and the fight is bigger than me, that I keep my faith in the One who can fight it for me. And my biggest hope is that our children will see them in me, so they have the same strong example. But, I fear at times they will never understand because I shelter them so they do not have to see my struggles or my weaknesses.
At Grandma Frazee’s funeral, we played Holes in the Floor of Heaven. When Mary grew a little older and asked about my mom, I told her she had to go to Heaven to pick her out for us. So when Samuel was born I heard her tell Sam that Grandma Mary picked him out too! I am so sure they would love to be here is some ways. I know they look down and I so wish they could be here to know our children. I wish they could be here and give some love and comfort on the days that are just hard. But they are in a much better place in Heaven just watching down the holes. So the next time it rains I need to remember it is…. For every day needs to be Memorial Day
‘Cause there’s holes in the floor of Heaven
and her tears are pourin’ down
that’s how you know she’s watchin’
wishin’ she could be here now
And sometimes if you’re lonely
just remember she can see
there’s holes in the floor of Heaven
and she’s watchin’ over you and me.