In Memoriam – Memom Gardner

First, I want to wish a Happy Father’s Day to all the men who have children, love them, and are a Daddy to them.

Today is Father’s Day in the US, and I love my children more than life itself.  But this day is full of sad memories for me.  It was three years ago that my mother called me and gave me the news, through a tearful, cracking voice, that her mother had passed away.  I was floored – I knew the day wasn’t far off, but I also never really thought it would come, either.  It’s probably due to having the young boy’s memories of Memom always being there for me.  She was a permanent figure in our family, at least as far as I knew, and losing her was a terrible blow to me.  She was the first grandparent I remember losing, and it happened in my adult life.  My oldest daughters remember her, and for that I am extremely grateful.

My mom asked me to write and deliver a eulogy for her.  I had never written one before, and didn’t think I was up for the task.  Despite my trepidation, I sat down and wrote, and the next day, I delivered it.  Here it is.

Memom, I still miss you.

These are just some of the memories I have of Memom. Of course, all of this is from a grandchild’s eyes.

Laughter. Lots of hugs. Fun times with her.

Long drives to Lancaster County. Camping with Anthony, Lauren and Jana. My first taste of shoofly pie. Memom telling me why it was called shoofly, and the difference between wet-bottom and dry-bottom. Ant slipping and falling out of the top bed in the camper in the middle of the night. Pancakes for breakfast. An artist giving me a painted rock.

Long drives to Aunt Edie’s cabin in the Poconos. Sleeping in the dormer with the pull-down steps. Finding Gumdrop, the dog. The four of us grandkids riding in the back of her station wagon, spitting out the window and watching it do loops and spins before bouncing on the blacktop behind us. Going to Camelback and racing on the sleds in the summer.

Sleepovers at Memom’s in Morrisville with Ant, Lauren and Jana. One more scoop of Jello with one more scoop of Cool Whip. Learning in the morning that one of us had wet the bed, while the rest of us slept through it.

Seeing Memom at Grandpop Gardner’s viewing. Hugging her as she cried. Kissing her cheek and tasting the salt of her tears.

Sleepovers at Memom’s in her Bristol apartment on Garfield St. Wondering why the porch in the back had all that stuff in it. Hours of Uno. The stairs that went to nowhere.

Seeing her at my graduation. Getting my picture with her while I was in my cap and gown.

Dancing with her at my wedding.

Watching her proudly, joyfully hold each of my daughters for the first time.

Talking with her at the Christmas parties. Making her bourbons, and her saying, “Well, it’s a little weak, but that’s OK.”

Seeing her last Saturday, so tired. Holding her hand. Watching my children kiss her and tell her they loved her. Kim and I doing the same.

She gave us, her family, the ones she loved, so much of her time and energy. She was a wonderful, beautiful woman. A perfect grandmother. Of course, all of this is from a grandchild’s eyes.

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Common Experiences

A short post today, consisting of a reaction I had earlier.

It occurred to me that there are so many things that divide us as a species.  Every one of us can look at another human being and easily see what is different.  We so readily define others as “What I am not.

Gender.  Gender ambiguity.  Racial identity.  Sexual orientation.  Religion.  Faith.  Religious denomination.  Economic status.  Nationality.  Political affiliation.  Sports.  Sports teams.  Diet.  Body shape.  Physical ability.  Physical disability.  Eye color. Eye shape.  Sickness.  Health.

All of these, whether apparent or not, are ways that we, as human beings, separate other human beings from ourselves.  I believe this is the source of many conflicts between us.  “You are different from me!”  Anger, loud words, war, oppression, and many other evils arise from this sense of “other,” or “unlike me.”

But then, I thought of two things, only two things, that we all share.  No matter the divisions between us, we all can claim them as our own.  This is part of our human condition.  What unites us.  What no one human can deny.

My Youngest Daughter, 2 Minutes Old

Birth.  Every human has a birth.

Death.  Every human will die.

Every human will experience joy at experiencing the birth of someone close to them.

Every human will grieve for the death of someone close to them.

As the two universal experiences, I go out of my way to acknowledge them with anyone.

I will purposely stop and wish someone a Happy Birthday when I know their birthday is near.

I will purposely stop and offer congratulations to someone who is expecting or has had a birth in their family or close circle of friends.

I will purposely stop and offer my condolences to anyone when I know they have lost someone dear to them.

I will purposely stop and offer a sympathetic ear to anyone who is near their death.

I try to focus on what we, as humans, have in common.  From there, I believe, we can build a better relationship with all people.