The soul cannot forgive until it
is restored to wholeness and health.
In the absence of love - how can one forgive?

With an abundance of love, starting with one's self,
forgiveness becomes a viable opportunity.
-Nancy Richards

Saturday, May 3, 2008


During my growing up years, Grandma had a positive impact on my life. She gave me what all children need – she gave of herself. Quite simply, she spent time with me. Grandma stated her affection with walks on the beach and her almost eccentric, yet loveable curiosity with nature. She spent time with my brothers and me, playing cards, cooking us elaborate meals and spoiling us with treats. Grandma shared her joy of crafts and cared for us when we were ill. I treasure fond memories of my grandmother.

Yet, she refused to believe that we were abused. When the family fell apart, she became enraged with me and cut me out of her life for good. I was stunned! How could a loving grandmother reject her grandchild?

The estrangement from my grandmother left me in an awkward place with my grandfather. Grandpa suffered from dementia and Grandma was his caretaker. The day Grandma cut me out of her life, Grandpa pleaded with her to stop what she was doing.

Six years into the estrangement from my Grandmother, my Mother, and my three siblings, my Grandma died. My love and longing for her were central to me long before she died. Yet I didn’t go to the funeral. I mourned her loss and a segment of my history alone. The soul-crushing isolation caused by not attending her service left me devastated; however, I simply did not feel safe enough to be there.

When Grandma died, Grandpa was moved into a care facility. This move afforded me the opportunity to see Grandpa again each Sunday:

Grandpa was eighty-eight years old when Grandma died. The simultaneous loss of his wife and his home must have been extremely difficult for my grandfather. However, Grandpa handled his transition with enviable grace. He tempered heartfelt expressions of love and loss with positive hope for his future. I am still in awe of his constant optimistic approach to each situation without displaying a hint of displeasure.

Although I cherish many wonderful childhood memories of my grandfather – reflections of teaching me cribbage, domino's, or just talking as we walked on the beach – my most heartfelt memories are those of teaching me life’s gentle lessons.

When I was a child, Grandma, Grandpa, and his then seventy-five year old sister took my brothers and me to the Suspension Bridge in Canada. Aunt Jessie was a little unsteady as we approached the lengthy span. Grandpa took her purse in one hand and then gently slipped his other arm through hers. He very patiently and lovingly escorted his older sister across the long wobbly bridge. In the decades to come, I watched Grandpa in many such circumstances – always the gentleman, always compassionate. However, this particular memory stands out for me, because, as I waited in the distance and watched them make this long journey together, I made my first conscience realization of what sort of man my grandfather really was.

Even at ninety and suffering from severe dementia, Grandpa never lost his sense of humor. Once before Grandpa and I left a gathering at my aunt’s house, she took Grandpa by the hand to help him use the facilities. When a visiting child asked where my aunt was taking him, the room fell in awkward silence. Grandpa saved the moment with his mischievous reply, “Well, she’s taking me out back for a whoopin of course!”

I treasure the time I had with Grandpa, even as I struggled with the discomfort of watching as his life slowly slipped away. Although he reached the point that he could no longer carry on a conversation, or remember anything past the present, I was blessed with the opportunity to return the love he shared throughout a lifetime. We went on long drives, simple outings, played checkers, or to a restaurant to eat. Most often, we stayed in his room and watched TV. Even though he didn’t remember who I was – he knew he was loved. Grandpa enriched my life with a wink and a smile, with a big gripping hug, and the words in earnest, “I love you!” He provided the little connections that make life meaningful.

For more than a half-century, Grandpa occupied “his chair” – to read, to watch TV, and to watch over his family. Each week, I sat on the floor at Grandpas feet to cut and arrange new flowers for his room. I looked up at my Grandfather, and watched him – watch over me – just as he had since I was little a little girl, and I was grateful for each day I was still his granddaughter.

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