Remembering my Great Grandmother, Susan

Her name means joy, I try to keep that in mind every year as I remember her on the day that she passed. The day rushes back to me vividly and suddenly I am 12 and I’m rushing home from school because my Grandmother called the Principal and my teachers and told them I needed to be home.

Our Great Grandmother had been ill for some time and we prayed that she would find peace in her passing the way she had given it in her living. She was amazing to me. My first brush with something I still haven’t been able to understand, death. For her, they made friends before she finally let go. I like to believe that she didn’t want us to worry, or suffer but had great wisdom to impart before she moved on. The words that she shared with me right before her passing are some I would never forget.

“I want all of you to find happiness, where ever you find it. When you do, I will be happy for you”

It echoes in everything I do. My search not only for knowledge but the search for myself is wrapped up in those words.

When I finally made it through the iron gates of the yard, I dropped my school bag and ran directly to the room that she occupied. The house rule of making sure your shoes were off and greeting everyone in the house be damned. I knew there were only two reasons I could be called home. Either she was gone, or she was almost gone. The entire one hour ride I wondered. There were no cell phones then, no Facebook chat, no twitter alerts to pacify me on my trip. My anxiety clawed at my throat like a mad person trapped and partially freed.

I remember my grandmother being there to hold me up when I crumpled at the side of her bed. The realization that I could not say good bye had sunk in. She was already gone.

I cried. I cried inconsolable for a few hours. I don’t remember how I got upstairs to my bedroom or who tucked me in bed but I woke up confused. The buzzing of the house and the tents that were being put up outside bring me back to reality. I was home, in the home where my great grandma passed and we were going to celebrate her life.

I got up from that bed renewed. I washed my hair, showered and rejoined my family. In that moment I realized that all of us would have to go at some point and what mattered was the legacy, the way you affected people that would live on.

So today, even though my mind is trying to force replay on that day, I choose to remember other days where she was full of life, with a smile, taking care of herself…planting her garden and going to market at 5 am.

Her random advice that never seemed to make sense in the moment but now resounds. She was an amazing woman and I am proud to have known her, spoken to her, loved her and I know that I’m a better person because of her influence in my life. I didn’t know for her for long, but her affect in my life is ever lasting.

I miss you Ma.

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