I cried. No matter how hard I tried, the tears flowed. In February of 2014, we packed up the U-Haul trailer and my kids said goodbye to their “Nonni.” We live in Northern California, and we were moving her to a skilled nursing facility in Southern California.
My grandmother, Marjorie, had lived with us for 11 years.
Gram came to help me when my first child was born in January 2003. She was only supposed to stay for a few weeks. My son was colicky, and Gram felt she needed to stay longer to help out. My husband and I called her the baby whisperer. No walker could slow her down! She would sit in the glider and rock my son with her special combinations of rhythmic pats, hums, and lullaby songs for what seemed like hours.
She was always ready for an exhausted, nursing mom with a perfectly prepared breakfast or lunch. And who knew a newborn could generate so much laundry? Gram, our laundry fairy, was there keeping the washer and dryer humming daily.
A few weeks stay soon turned into 6 months. Discussions were had. Decisions made. She was going to move in with us – because we simply needed the help and couldn’t survive without her (or so she proclaimed). I went from a long-distance phone call to being able to talk and see Gram daily. At 78-years-old, she did a lot to help.
Over the next few years, as we welcomed our second child in 2005, Gram was there. Slowly, she needed more of my help, and I began returning the love and care she had given me all my life. There was knee replacement surgery, some falls, bumps, bruises, calls to 911, and quite a few trips to urgent care and the emergency room. In a blink of an eye, 11 years passed…
Her daughter (my Aunt) is in the medical field (a resident nurse), and lives near the SoCal nursing facility we moved her into earlier this year. Yes. It was the right decision, and it makes logical sense, but it certainly didn’t make it any easier. I miss her.
There are things I think about often… my Grandmother’s insistence on saving every empty cardboard box, as she “might have a need for it someday,” her endless collection of plastic and paper bags from the grocery store, and let’s not forget about the “rubber band ball.” Birthdays were difficult this year. Grandmother would always buy the birthday cakes. That was her gift. She loved her cake – the best of cakes lathered in real butter cream frosting. At my core, I miss sharing these moments with my grandmother.
It’s the holidays, that time of year to celebrate family — don’t let these moments pass. Take advantage of the time you have with those special people in your life, and capture the memories. Thankfully, technology helps a lot these days. I can’t help but be jealous with the various apps available that hold moments like treasures for you. Oh, how I would love to have my own extensive library of Gram-memories captured available at the touch of a finger on my phone.
A company (FamilySearch) introduced two new mobile apps this summer to help families connect: FamilySearch Tree and FamilySearch Memories. Amazingly both are free, but Family Search Memories is my favorite, as it:
- Captures photos of any family event (birthdays, recitals, births, graduations, reunions)
- Record audio interviews with family members
- Use the keyboard to write family stories, jokes, or sayings
- Use the mic key to capture what you say
- Identify and tag relatives within a memory to automatically add it to their collection in Family Tree
- Available for iOS 7+
Don’t be afraid to use your time here giving and getting love. Capture and celebrate all the moments, small and big! I wish I had captured all of Gram’s explanations and tales, and all the quirky things she did. Time whitewashes so many details. I thought I would remember the stories vividly, and I don’t.
Start collecting these moments now… It is amazing how much they matter later in life, and how much our children and our families enjoy hearing them.
Director of People Operations
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