Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ireland's Gift to My Family

My Grandma Kirk used to call me "pet" when I was a little boy. The memory warms my heart. If something made me cry like my brother breathing on my side of the back seat, she might say, "What is it pet?" in a sweet voice that still hinted of her Dublin roots. Obviously, I wasn't the only pet of her seven grandchildren, but I relish that I was first.

Grandma's wit often escaped me as a child such as when she'd say "You're in the will!" after I did something to amuse her. I always thought it was some kind of Irish saying that meant "Good job!"

Even as a 20 year-old, Grandma's humor flew over my head. We were on a vacation together (known as "Kirkfests") when I was off socializing with some ladies. At some point later, I rejoined our family and Grandma asked innocently "Chasing the birds, Denny?" My literal interpretation of her comment must have been apparent in my facial expression because she politely explained that she wasn't talking about the birds that fly.

Grandma and Grandpa never miss a birthday, a Christmas, or any other important event without at least a card and a gift. Never. Ask Grandma if she's ever attended any of her grandchildren's graduations and she could probably lead the band in "Pomp and Circumstance."

Recently, my aunt relayed a story to me that she and Grandma were at the beauty salon when a conversation arose about whether she had any great grandchildren. If I remember correctly, her lighthearted response was something like "Why do you think I've been holding on?"

A few hours after Greta Jane was born, I called Grandma to tell her that her new title was official: she was a great grandmother. She gleefully exclaimed that our little Gigi would have to call her "G.G." It was a special and private moment for me.

Pauline Cullen Kirk passed away peacefully yesterday in the warm company and thoughts of her loved ones. My grandmother's warmth, wit, thoughtfulness, and generosity are only a few of the indelible impressions she left on me just by being herself. I will miss her dearly. But rather than dwell on the sadness accompanying her departure, I choose instead to focus on the happiness of her presence.

Two weeks ago, we shared our last special moment when I introduced Grandma to her great granddaughter. On any given day, the situation may not have been particularly significant from the perspective of a passerby: an elderly woman holding a newborn child. But in those precious few minutes, I didn't care about anything else in the world. And for that, I am so grateful to G.G. that she waited to see us before she moved on. We love you Grandma. Rest in peace.


Tom Kirk said...

Beautiful Den! Thank you!
Uncle Tom

TimK said...

Beautiful Den, you made me cry a river. Tim