Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Two Years Later
Two of Grandma Kirk's three leprechauns, above.
My Grandma Kirk passed away two years ago, this Wednesday. In that time period, she has assumed a celestial watch over three great-grandchildren, not just the 4-week old peanut she met shortly before her passing.
Since she's been gone, there is a lot about my grandmother that makes me reflect.
On the deeper side, I have just one major regret. The last time I saw Grandma, she was in her hospital room smiling and laughing with other family members. Even with her health ailing, I couldn't believe that she might not pull through. She always came out on top before. It dawned on me for a second that I might not see her again. But either due to denial or naivete or haste, I neglected to tell her exactly how much I loved and cared for her before I left. Even though I know she knew then and cosmically knows now, my failure to seize the moment still haunts my insides a bit today.
On the lighter side, I can still hear in my head the exact way she said my name. Even though I asked my relatives to stop using my nickname when I was too "old" for it at about 12, I never minded when she continued to call me "Denny." She just pronounced it in her way. Perhaps the thought of hearing her pronouncement of my name induces some type of a Pavlovian response that anticipates imminent spoiling, or grandmotherly love and affection.
There is so much more about which I could write, but I'd rather just post what I wrote back then because it still rings true and reading it makes me feel a bit better. Love you Grandma!
"Ireland's Gift to my Family" - March, 2009
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.