My grandma passed away yesterday – My Baba to be exact. She was 85 years old and she had this ability to love the people in her life in a way that made everyone feel special. I had a special bond with her, but I also knew that my sister had her own unique connection as did my cousins.
She was a fighter. Having spent countless times in the hospital over the last 10 years she always bounced back. It took her a little longer to recover each time but once you saw that glimmer in her eye you knew she was there.
“Baba” is a story in itself – she hated the name, and my dad knew it which was why he insisted (as a joke) to teach me to say it as a little kid. I mean who can argue when their grandchild looks up with big blue eyes and coos “Bah-ba” and so it stuck and passed along to my siblings, although my cousins continued to call her Grandma – again, their own special relationship to this very special woman.
The word Matriarch keeps coming to mind when I think of her because she was the centre of every family gathering. Not only because she made the best turkey dinner and banana cream pie, but because she genuinely loved you and you knew you were home when you were with Baba.
The last time I saw her was this past summer and when she arrived the whole family gathered to help her in the house. The twins ran up to her and within minutes… MINUTES were saying “Bah-ba”confirming that she was the centre for the next generation as well.
I have very clear memories of sleepovers at her and my Gramps’s house, eating peas from her garden, playing lawn darts in the back yard. There was this marble/card game we played every night in between UNO games. They had an electric keyboard and I would play “When the Saints Go Marching In” for hours…. and we had a song:
I sang it to her every time I saw her.. in my 20’s I thought she would stop requesting the childhood tune but she didn’t and in my 30’s when I’d offer to sing anything else she’d look at me with a smile that said: NO, OUR SONG. I mean who can argue when their Baba looks up with big brown eyes and says “Sing our song”.
Of course she had flaws.. she was human after all and throughout the years I learned more about them, about her battles and her conflicts but regardless of her struggles there was never a time when “my Baba” wasn’t there for us.
I tell you all of this because a) I want you to know how I saw her so you will b) understand that what I’m about to say comes out of love.
It was her time.
She was 85. She loved and was loved- IS loved by so many people and I’m not sure what the whole point of life is – but I do know that people don’t love enough and my Baba DID. .
Death is a thief – it leaves you feeling stunned and alone. I have very few experiences with death (thankfully) but I have to be grateful that we were given notice this was happening so we could make our peace and ensure she was comfortable while we waited for life to run its course. You can’t ask for more than that from a thief.
In between the tears and stares into the abyss, mixed into the moments of chaos and calm with the twins, during the conversations with J, my Dad and my sisters, I am grieving. I am sad that the twins won’t get to know her. They will only know her from photos and stories (including this blog). I am sad, but I am also GRATEFUL that I got to love and was loved by this remarkable woman and I can pass that kind of love onto them.
The words to the song may not fit this situation, but the sentiment sure does.
I love you Baba.