This weekend was emotionally rough for not just myself but for my entire family. We said goodbye to the matriarch of our clan and my grandmother Gwendolyn Elaine. Normally, I’d change names for protection of identities but my grandmother had such beautiful names I can’t fathom switching them whatsoever so I won’t. This past weekend was all about her beautiful memory. I know spiritually and mentally she’s in paradise living it up, free and no longer in the pain. I’m grateful the suffering she experienced the last few months of her Earth life is now over. However, emotionally this sucks and I want her back.
It was gut wrenching seeing her in so much pain when I went to visit her. My mother, father, brother, sister and I went to see her a few days before she passed away. We got to say goodbye to her and my heart aches for my three cousins and aunt that didn’t get that same opportunity on one hand; on another they were spared seeing the warrior rock we knew as Gwendolyn Elaine. Truly, it wasn’t just her direct descendants that loved her or were close to her. The entire family held her in high regard and adored her. She was dainty and tough, which baffles me because it sounds like an oxymoron but my grandmother pulled this task off brilliantly. She radiated such class you wish you could bottle it up. I know I did. I’m not just saying that because she was my grandmother. I’m saying it because anyone that knew her described Gwendolyn Elaine as class if she had to be categorized by one word. Apparently she was quite the popular one in Guyana back in the day, which I learned over the weekend. It was wonderful hearing new things about this amazing woman that’s responsible for the existence of 11 direct descendants.
Although we knew that things weren’t looking great since late December of last year, I still emotionally on some small level thought: “I’d handle her death pretty okay because she lived a long life….or a miracle will happen she’ll out live us all.” Delusion R Us right? Yes, I know. I completely fell apart at her funeral. Even writing out this blog right now, I am falling apart. I miss her so much. I never knew I could cry this much. And I hate crying. I think it sucks. I avoid it at all costs. At least I used to. It makes me believe that God is wrestling with me in this area so that I can no longer hide this side of me. My entire family saw me ball like a baby at my grandmother’s funeral to the point where my awesome cousins stopped me from collapsing. For the longest I thought crying was done privately, mourning was done privately. Or you can ‘prepare’ for death. God had other plans. One of my cousins came up to me and said she’s never seen me cry. That’s very telling. I don’t have the greatest history when it comes to crying. But that’s a post for another day. This is a dedication of my late beautiful grandmother.
Gwendolyn Elaine was the irreplaceable anchor in this family. Everyone went to her for ANYTHING and everything and she always made it happen: No matter what. Everything was always going to be okay if she said it would be. She’s ‘grangergreen’ an awesome nickname my brother came up with at 3 that just stuck around and our cousin added she smelled like tangerines. SO many awesome stories were discussed this weekend between the six grandchildren. And being around the rest of our family was just so beautiful and priceless. I want more. I’m greedy for more moments like this weekend.
Gwendolyn Elaine was a joyful, God fearing woman who thought family was never to be taken for granted. A woman who taught her girls to walk with their head held high with purpose and confidence no matter what. A woman who taught us that NOTHING separated people here on Earth. Because it didn’t matter what social class you were part of or what was the color of your skin; it also didn’t matter what your spiritual belief was and how your fiscal situation looked like. This amazing woman taught us you belong no matter what because we’re all God’s children. None of those materialistic things separated us. These were some of the amazing life lessons echoed in the eulogy that my sister read. She did such a fantastic job. My heart swelled with pride because our family was reunited and there for one another.
That eulogy forever changed my trajectory. My sister was raised with our grandmother. A blessing to be near this incredible woman on a daily basis and absorb such valuable lessons. My sister was saying good bye to the only constant daily guardian in her life. I didn’t even know all of the amazing things about our grandmother before that eulogy. Makes me want her back even more so I can know that amazing side on a personal level too. Or the fact that she was this brilliant seamstress that made the wedding dresses for a chunk of our family members from scratch. Emotionally I feel robbed I didn’t get to know her everyday like my sister did. But that seems wrong and selfish on an intellectual and mental level.
On this walk, there is one constant lesson that I continue to learn: nothing is an accident. My sister being raised by my grandmother was all apart of God’s grand design. Gwendolyn Elaine was the type of woman that thrived and was motivated by being a caretaker. It made her a better human. There was nothing my mom or aunt wanted for back in Guyana and when they were old enough, married with additional kids, they went their separate ways. My grandmother even took care of her siblings and their kids. My aunt and her clan moved to Canada and we’re here in New York. Back in Guyana everyone lived in a two family house and/or across the street. When the footprints left Guyana the unity disappeared into dust. The stories I hear about the days in Guyana makes my heart contemplate what it would’ve been like if those patterns and habits were carried here in New York, or where ever. As long as we were all together. Being at my sister’s house this weekend and just enjoying all my cousins, aunts and uncles was truly a gift. I’m convinced my grandmother was smiling down at us. The fact that we were inspired to start the steps of another family reunion is just my proof that we truly honored her name and memory.
We were truly blessed to have Gwendolyn Elaine for the 90 years we did have her. We may be mourning her physically and it hurts like heck but she’s with us always in spirit as a guardian angel. No one can cook chowmein quite like Gwendolyn Elaine. In fact, she made anything taste heavenly, I used to stare at her in the kitchen as a kid. I asked her will I ever cook as amazing as her and she told me, “Crysie, I didn’t become an amazing cook until after I got married so you have plenty of time.” Well, my beautiful grandmother, I’m holding you to that promise and counting on your guidance when the time comes. January 21st will not only be a celebration of my birth but also the day I gained you as a guardian angel my precious Granny. Until we see you again. Love you forever and always. Thank you for reading beautiful people. DO me a favor, go hug and kiss your grandmother and tell her you love her, thanks. This path called life belongs to Jesus Christ.