“HELLO! HELLO! HELLO!”

“HELLO!  HELLO!  HELLO!” is such a familiar greeting in my childhood.  “Mom, why does grandma say ‘Hello’ three times when we walk in?” my 7 year old self would ask as we walked into my grandmother’s home who lived just one mile down the street from where I grew up.

I just heard that familiar greeting as I am sitting in the living room at my grandmother’s home in her golf oasis in Florida as a few of her friends arrive for a visit.  I have been here all weekend with some other family members as my grandmother moves nearer and nearer to THE final destination.  Yes, she is dying.  Not today.  Not tomorrow.  Not this week.  Probably not next week or the week after.  Within a month or two she will leave this earthly plane but in the meantime she is alive and living the best that she can and we are here to experience some of that.

I feel fortunate to be privy to some of the stories that are shared in such an intimate setting.  I always knew my grandmother was strong, powerful, full of life and opinionated.  However, as I sit and listen the stories this weekend (and of course stories I have heard over the years) she is also a real person with real life experiences, has had many ups and downs, has shed a lot of tears, has found love and happiness and has the most contagious, roaring laugh on the planet.

My Mom is here, a few aunts and uncles, with other neighborhood friends of my grandparent’s stopping by during the days.  Grandma is spending most of the day relaxing, reminiscing and resting.  We have done a lot of sitting and talking, literally hours of sitting and talking.  We have all shed tears, shared stories, asked questions and done a ton of laughing.  In fact, the first morning I woke up here, I thought to myself how great it is to be awakened from sleep by roaring family laughter, especially considering these circumstances.

During this time, we have drawn out the family tree.  My grandmother birthed 10 children.  My grandfather, who isn’t my grandfather by blood but has been “Grandpa” to me for close to 30 years, has 7 children of his own.  There are layers of grandchildren and great grandchildren and the total count of immediate family comes to 96 people total.  WOW!!!  Isn’t that an absolute monstrosity of a family!!!

“It’s a myth that a big family is always happy.  We have our share of tears, but there is a network support system that always goes into gear in time of need.  My children were the reason I got up in the morning” a direct quote from my grandmother back in 1981 when she was voted “Mother of the Year” by the local Fenton newspaper at the time.

That “network support system” has always been a central idea to how our family was run and I see it in my generation, especially when it comes to my own siblings and nearest and dearest.  That theme is a powerful part of what my life was built around especially considering my dad was one of his own natural support network of 9 children.

There is nothing like family, absolutely nothing that can replace these blood connections.  When family gets to these numbers, there are good eggs and bad eggs, however we are all connected and always will be connected in a way that runs strong and deep behind the scenes…and largely due to the ideas of the amazing matriarch that started this show.

My grandmother is a legend and one of my heroes.  I know she will never truly grasp in this lifetime the extent of her extraordinary life and contribution to this world.  She will never realize what an amazing person she is, her beauty, her strength and how much good she contributed while she is here.  But her faith is strong and I know she will figure that out as soon as she sheds her current failing body.

When she leaves this earthly plane, she will travel effortlessly to wherever she believes Heaven is and I know God will know when she arrives because he will hear her roaring laughter and her infamous “HELLO! HELLO!  HELLO!”.  May peace be with you in your process of transitioning, Grandma, and thanks in advance for watching over all 95 of us from the other side.

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6 Comments and Trackbacks

  • Posted by Jamie Lasco on February 18, 2013 at 12:44 am

    This is a great story of life an family thanks for sharing

  • Posted by Julie on February 19, 2013 at 12:32 am

    Beautiful.

  • Posted by Rebecca on March 08, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    Thank you for sharing this, Erica. I enjoyed reading your heartfelt, wonderful writing about your grandmother. Knowing your grounding in vitalisitc philosophy, I also know you understand better than many that death is a natural conclusion to a life and when it’s the end of a life well and lovingly lived, it is not so much a loss as a fulfillment. My thoughts are with you and your family as you say goodbye to your grandmother.

    • Posted by Dr. Erica Peabody on March 11, 2013 at 2:54 pm

      Thank you for your kind words Rebecca. Yes that is so true there is peace that one finds at the end of a life lived, as you stated, well and lovingly. She did that. I am grateful to have had someone like her to call “Grandma” for so many years of my life.