Family is everything

Family is everything
Sean Car

Sometimes we don’t realise this until it’s too late. Or maybe we realise it, but still think we have time to appreciate them.

Somewhat incredibly, I still thought there was time for me to tell my grandmother just how much I adored her. That there would still be time for one more catch-up, to paint her nails just one more time.

Time ran out last week. It is a privilege not afforded to many, to be farewelled from this world having lived a magnificent 97 years, but it does not make it any easier to say goodbye.

I’m grateful I was there with my family as we formed our circle of love around her for her last few days. And I am also grateful that I did have the opportunity to regularly see her and share stories with her and tell her how much I loved her. It just seemed that she would be with us always, and I guess in a way she always will be, through sharing our stories and holding her in our hearts.

The good thing that does come from funerals, is some form of peace and closure. It meant a lot to me to give her eulogy, and her wake was more of a cocktail party with friends and family laughing, hugging, and generally enjoying being together, even though in grief. And that’s when you realise it’s been so long since you’ve seen some friends and family.

They were all there to farewell and mourn our wonderful matriarch, and I realise how much I have missed them throughout the years of us all being absorbed by our own lives. Work is busy, house needs work, yard needs doing – we so easily get caught up in what we have to do, we don’t even realise what we are truly missing.

My grandmother’s funeral reminded me to enjoy life, to sing and dance as she was always doing to Nat King Cole on the gramophone. To host dinner parties with friends, with crystal glasses flowing with champagne, tables laden with flowers and food, and the peals of laughter hanging in the air. Grandma would always freshen up her lipstick and celebrate whatever life had given them. And having been through World War Two, they had an ability to celebrate even the smallest of joys.

It breaks my heart to see families that are divided. Grown siblings fighting each other and being so cruel. Battles over entitlement and competing in a way that results in jealousy and negativity. Perhaps it’s because they have been born into privilege, perhaps it’s because there isn’t a world war that brings ranks together in solidarity against a common enemy.

Whatever the reason, it is sad to see. The wounds that are inflicted by words can last a long time. I wonder if they can see the path they are choosing, or if they are so caught up in their resentment that it blinds them to the pain they are causing. When they realise that they have hurt the ones they love the most, I hope that it won’t be too late to repair the damage.

Remember that family – both the people you are genetically connected to, and the people you choose for your clan – are the greatest love, strength, support, and joy we have. Make time for them. Celebrate. Connect. Love them fiercely. Because when the end does come, they will be the ones you care about.

My grandmother lived a magnificent, full life and we adored her. And her lesson to us is to live life to its absolute fullest, to host parties and dance in high heels, to laugh and to create a lifetime of memories that live on through generations. To love your family.

Until next month, Abby x    •

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