In July I always think of my grandmother, since her birthday is tomorrow. But really every month reminds me of my grandma. She was so much a part of my every day life that it's impossible not to think of her every single day. When big things happen or when nothing is happening at all, I want to call her. Two and half years after her passing I still reach for the phone and it always feels weird when I realize she's not a call away. There is absolutely no one in world that can make me feel better about a really hard day than my grandma could. Life is full of hard days, and she isn't there to say exactly the right thing anymore, which was that she thought I was the greatest thing ever and there was nothing that I could possibly do wrong (Hey, sometimes you just need to hear that!). She was also the best at sharing joy. She was so happy for me and my sisters when something good happened that her voice almost sung. She made the hard times easier and the best times better. I struggled with the urge-to-call-her feeling for awhile and still do sometimes, but there is a simple thing that helps me through those times when I wish I could call her and can't - a gift given to me by my sister.
Shortly after my grandmother died my sister, Lizz, sent me, my mom and my other sister necklaces. A simple necklace with the words "all the best." Before every family meal together our Grandma and Poppa would raise their glasses and say "All the best, and God Bless." It's a happy reminder of meals filled with laughter, wine and my Poppa "MMM"-ing in approval of my dad's cooking.
I never take the necklace off and have had to replace the chain twice. But whenever I feel like I need my Grandmother's words of encouragement or to hear her sing-songy excitement, I touch it. I'm not someone who's religious or feels like you can talk to those who have passed, but I love that it helps me remember what my grandma would have said in a situation. Sometimes I just talk to it - which feels bizarre, but it's comforting just to say what I want to say out loud. When you lose someone, you get scared of forgetting them - little things start to go, like the sound of their voice. What you even talked about every day just starts to fade. It's hard losing memories. I cried (hard) in the middle of a Sprint store a couple of weeks ago when they had to shut down my phone in order to give me a new one, forcing me to erase a voice-mail from my grandma just saying hi. This necklace has helps me remember that even if the little memories fade, she's still with me everyday.
One outing I'll never forget with my grandma is when we took her to the building she grew up in in Brooklyn. She loved seeing it, how it had changed, pointing to the window she used to look out of, talking about the neighbors and even some puppy-love stories. It felt special to see the rush of memories she was experiencing and also hear stories I had never heard before. That Christmas I got her a photo of her building from the tax archives of NY. Between 1939 and 1941, and again in the mid-1980s, the city photographed every house and building in the five boroughs, and you can purchase them here. The photo arrived late and I unfortunately was never able to give it to her (she died shortly after Christmas), but it hangs on my wall as part of her and my history in NY. People always ask about it and I love telling them about it, because it's a chance to talk about my Grandma.
Jamie had a special relationship with her grandmother, too, who unfortunately passed away right before Jamie knew she was pregnant. But unbeknownst to Jamie, she was in the early stages of pregnancy when she was still sitting by her grandmother, Vivian's, side. In a traditional form of remembrance, Jamie and her husband chose to pass the name along, and 8 months after saying goodbye, her baby girl, Vivian, brought new joy and new family memories to the same name. Vivi is going to grow up hearing wonderful stories about her namesake. In honor of her great-grandma Viv, she will learn to make sweet tea and play cards and be quick to laugh and kind and accepting of others, and maybe she'll feel closer to the woman she didn't get to meet because she shares a name with her.
Here are a few more ways to honor someone who is no longer with us, but is with us everyday:
- You can order tea towels with your recipes printed on them or make them yourself. Or simply frame the original written recipes in your kitchen. I am planning to frame both of my grandmothers' and my husbands granny's recipes in our small kitchen. I cook my grandmothers recipe of corned beef and cabbage each year on St. Patricks Day. It's a simple recipe that I probably have memorized, but there it's more special when her handwriting is with me on a holiday that we always spent together.
- A friend of ours framed her Grandmother's beautiful silk scarf and hung it on her wall. It not only serves as a way of remembering, but as beautiful piece of artwork in her home.
- This Etsy shop turns handwriting into a beautiful bracelet, which could look really elegant, since our grandparents were way better at cursive than we are.
- The Etsy shop where my sister bought our necklaces no longer exists, but there are plenty of other stores who do the same thing. Just search "personalized, gold bar, and necklace."
How do you remember or honor people who you've lost? We would love to hear.
All the best, and God bless. xo