Don and I went to visit with my Grandma Smith (my mom’s mother) over Christmas break. While we were there, grandma said to me, “If there is anything of mine that you would like, you need to let me know." I couldn't think of anything off the top of my head, but I did tell grandma that she should write, with a Sharpie, names of the intended recipients on the bottoms of her knick knacks, etc. I’m sure grandma has material things that I would love to have, just because they belong to her, but what I cherish most is something aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings cannot take from me...memories of her and my grandpa.
My advice for grandma to label things stems from personal events. When my Grandma Stucki (my dad’s mother) passed away years ago, I didn’t get to choose even a small trinket from her belongings. The only thing I have in my possession is a children’s book that grandma, a few years before she became sick, insisted I take home. When I was a little girl, she and I would sit in her recliner, between the fireplace and the window, while she read stories from Little Brown Bear to me. The book is old and torn, but the memories that flood my mind when I hold and peruse Little Brown Bear are beyond priceless.
Saying good-bye is never easy and it is all too common for extended families to crumble and go separate ways after the death of a loved one, especially if that loved one is the patriarch or matriarch of the family. What I have learned through experience is that people, family included, are unpredictable. It is hard to say what will become of grandma’s posterity when she passes to the other side. I hope she will take my advice and spell out her intentions clearly for her children and grandchildren, because I think she would want her family to remain intact, having no hard feelings toward each other.