My grandmother passed away Saturday morning, inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon (To God we belong, and to Him we return).
Everyone knew it was coming since she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer a few months ago, and during that time I imagine many of us have been reflecting on her life, and our own.
I know I have.
When I think of my grandmother, I always remember a smiling face, someone who would greet me warmly and lovingly. I’ve never witnessed her act any differently, and never heard anyone speak of anything to the contrary. Maybe she was a pacifist at heart, never disturbing the peace; I didn’t know her terribly well, but I’m starting to gather that may have been her general demeanor.
I think about my children’s memories of me. Will they flock to my bedside if I find myself in a similar position as my grandmother? Will they all wish to be the last one I speak to? Or will they grudgingly do what they believe to be their duty, but feel burdened by it as they felt I displayed I was burdened by them.
Will they love me, flaws and all, or love me out of obligation, in spite of my flaws?
Will they remember the times we sat and read books together, or the times I yelled at them to put on their shoes?
What are the memories we are creating with our kids?
Seeing so much reflection by those in my family, and in myself, it causes me to pause and really reflect on how I am as a mother. After all, I chose motherhood as my career at this point. Shouldn’t I treat it with just as much care as I would a paying job?
I look up to my grandmother, as a mother of five, so the last time I visited her, I asked, “How did you do it all with 5 kids?”
Her answer, “Well, I just did.”
That wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear that she had struggles, that she met with neighborhood friends weekly as a breath of fresh air in her otherwise kid-centered home. I wanted to hear that she had struggles like I do.
But apparently she didn’t. Or, she knew it wasn’t worth complaining about, then or now.
Is this what made her a great mother? Adored by her children, who flocked to her side as soon as they found out she was ill? Was it just pulling up your bootstraps and making it work with a smile on your face?
Maybe she honestly just handled kids better and easier than I do. Maybe Amatullah’s tantrum this morning over her banana being cut in half wouldn’t have phased her.
Whatever it was, she left a legacy as the ideal wife and mother. My ship has passed when it comes to being “ideal,” but I can learn from her in so many ways.
I just hope that when my time comes, my legacy will be at least half of hers.
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