At 93 years old, and within hours of having seen eight out of her nine children (with one living in Hawaii), my grandmother passed away peacefully last week.
My aunt in Hawaii who was unable to make it to her side in the final days noted a good reason for celebration. Ninety-three years filled with memories and people and experiences of all sorts. And a last breath taken in the presence of family before any of her children took theirs.
My aunt would know — she buried two of her three sons.
A moment like this evokes many emotions. But more than anything, it brings perspective.
It is more celebratory than sad. It is more centering than sobering.
The perspective it brings reminds me that the lives I touch daily are a bigger deal than the news or nagging worries that grab at me.
The perspective it brings reminds me that the work I do unseen builds the lives that will follow mine.
The perspective it brings reminds me that we will be remembered for reasons beyond money, accomplishment and status — so let’s take inventory of the objects of our striving.
The perspective it brings reminds me that roll-free, wrinkle-free bodies are not the goal. And that perhaps the goal for a body is to use it to do good. To embody love.
The perspective it brings me is that life — even 93 full years — is a whisper.
So what am I doing now for the sake of eternity?
In a world of turmoil and chaos, the passing of one woman reminds me of what matters for this one.
I have to imagine my grandma felt many of the same emotions I feel while raising children — fear and delight, insecurity and fulfillment. Only she had three times the number of children I have.
She once told me she had always wanted to have twins, too. I asked her if nine wasn’t enough. She smiled and said, “I guess not.”
And I wonder if only the seasoning of 70, 80, 90 years can bring about that kind of attitude. The one that sees children as a blessing instead of a burden. As something that adds to life rather than takes away.
In the throes of parenting, it’s easy to forget these little people are more of a privilege than a debt.
My grandmother lived through a World War, the Great Depression and the inception stages of television.
I’ve lived through the invention of the internet and a global pandemic.
My children will live through trials and triumphs yet unknown.
Maybe what matters more than the cards you draw is how you play them.
And that’s the perspective a life can give.
Let’s play our cards well.
Theresa Meacham’s column appears Wednesdays in The News-Gazette. She can be reached at theresam