Missing my Gram: finding the light in the dark

My gram

My gram, as a girl

My grandmother had a stroke on a Friday.

I know that because I know she held court the night before and went to bed like normal. She was a judge, you see, bringing justice to the fine people in the Town of Ulysses.

That Thursday was a crazy one, as Thursdays could be, as they were my errand day. Many Thursdays, after grocery shopping, I drove the 11 or so miles to her house to hang out and have lunch. Not that Thursday, though, because we had the electric and gas company out to give us a digital meter. For some reason I was required to be here, even though it meant they had to shut off our power AND water. So here I was, unloading my groceries while my 18-month old happily ate lunch, and I recounted the events of the meter switch to my grandmother over the phone. And I kept going over to the damn sink to wash my hands. No water!

“You don’t realize how hard it is to live without water until you don’t have it! I keep going over to the sink to wash my hands,” I said.

“Oh I know it! Uh oh, I have another call. It looks like Tom, I need to talk to him before court tonight.” Tom is the Chief of Police.

“Okay, I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Love you gram!”

“Love you too honey girl.”

And that was that. The last words we ever spoke to each other.

And so now here I am, four (FOUR?!) years later, finally emerging from the dark. And I didn’t think I could write about this, because it was too painful, too much. And I’m just not that kind of blogger. And UGH, all these people posting what they are thankful for on Facebook and on their blogs. Give me a break!


Wow. I need to move past this.

So I’m trying to see how my pain can be turned into joy and thankfulness. A lesson for me and maybe others. I KNOW that my Gram doesn’t want us to dwell in this terrible place. She wants us to live on for her – for US! If we can’t, then she will think she did not do a good job with us. So this year I am thankful for all the lessons she taught me, and I’m finally ready to share them. Here are a few, in no particular order.

You should always have your own money. There are a lot of reasons why. Mostly, you just should.

You can love people for a lot of reasons, and you should spread your love and offer what you have to those in need. You never know when you make the difference in someone’s life.

Maintain your integrity when you are mad/sad/hurt. Don’t act like a fool, and you will earn and keep the respect of those around you.

Be strong, even in your lowest moment. Stare adversity in the eye, hike up your big girl panties and get on with it. She was often telling me, “Get a grip girl!” And she was ALWAYS right.

It is okay to sacrifice for your family, as long as you don’t sacrifice too much of yourself, for you are the glue that holds it together.

In life and death she taught me that justice is subjective. Laws and justice are two different animals. Follow the law, question justice.

She taught me how to cook. First by watching Julia Child with me when I was a little girl, and then as I grew. She taught me how to prepare some of our favorite recipes, which I love to share and prepare for the rest of my family.

She taught me how to be a lady AND a woman. A lady minds her words and doesn’t smoke out on the street. A woman doesn’t let anyone push her around. Be both.

I’m learning to live without water.

“Gram, thank you for teaching me how to get through the drought.”

“You’re welcome honey girl.”

About Laine

Elaine GriffinElaine Griffin (a.k.a. Laine) is a freelance WordPress designer, content creator, and speaker. She brings her background as a sociologist, advocate, and educator, to her work and her writing, which has been featured on BlogHer and The SITS Girls. On The Laine List she spills her guts about life, motherhood, and balancing work and family. She also sprinkles in some fun recipe and cocktail posts. On Elaine Griffin Designs, she writes easy to follow tutorials about WordPress, social media, SEO, and blogging.
Working from her home office in Finger Lakes Region of NY, Elaine, a wine lover, also enjoys the beauty of living in wine country!

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  1. says

    Love this piece, Laine and thank you for sharing with us! I’m sorry that you lost your grandmother, but happy you still have so many memories/lesson from her. I feel the same way about my grandma, I still think of her quite a lot and ask myself what she would do in certain situations. It’s hard to let go of people who made a big impact in your life, but I dont think we have to let go in some sense… I hope you will feel her presence in some way this holiday season and know that she is with you in spirit.

    Love this lesson: Maintain your integrity when you are mad/sad/hurt. Don’t act like a fool, and you will earn and keep the respect of those around you.

    • Laine says

      Thank you so much! I am happy to have so many memories and guidance, too, and I’m glad you also are able to think about what your grandmother would do. I’m sure she is with you every day just like mine is!

  2. myalienbody says

    What a beautiful tribute to your grandma. Yes, I think the holidays are hard for so many people. I’ve lost a lot of people, A LOT, and it never ever gets easier. But I’ve learned to stop holding on to pain and start reaching for joy. My husband lost his mom in Aug., so this holiday is going to be tough, but it would really have pissed her off to know that we were not carrying on and finding joy in the season and with the family that is still here. I hope you find that peace soon (and I know from much experience that it is so damn hard).


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