My maternal grandmother passed away a couple of months ago. She was ill physically, mentally and spiritually. I was not upset when she made her transition. In fact, I was happy that she was able to find the peace she never had while on earth.
Throughout my life my grandmother equated money with love. She would be sure to send the most cash for gifts. I was only eight or nine years old when she gave me $500 for my birthday.
As I grew older my grandmother’s financial means dwindled. The last years of her life she relied on her miniscule social security each month. Every holiday and birthday she would say, “I am sending a check, I wish it were more.”
My general reply was, “We do not expect anything, it is not necessary, but thank you.”
At the time, I honestly meant what I was saying. Until a few days ago, I did not realize that despite my words, I was expecting a check in the mail.
While thinking about the holidays, I realized that I would not be receiving a holiday card with a check in it from my grandmother this year. It was not the money I was thinking about; it was the fact that for as long as I could remember my grandmother would send a gift. It became an expectation, a part of my life. With her passing, this act passed away as well.
I found the lack of my grandmother’s monetary gesture saddening. Until that moment I had not truly missed her from my life. I have heard people say that the holidays are hard after the passing of a loved one. I think it has to do with our expectations and traditions at this time of year.
Every year I order my father fruit cake from Swiss Colony, my mother puts up the tree, and I put a wrapping bow on my dog’s head. One day, these simple acts will pass away. I do not think it occurs to us that traditions and expectations change as our lives change. That is one reason the holidays can be challenging.
In honor of the expectation I once associated with my grandmother, I will create a new tradition. The opportunity has not presented itself yet, but I will be on the look out. It will be about creating a new expectation for someone. An act that someone will look forward to year after year, even if they do not recognize it until I have made my transition as well.