Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Nutrition and Health Coach.
It is with a heavy heart that yet again, I find myself in front of my computer writing about a loved one versus the latest nutrition trend. However, these instances in life can have more of a poignant impact on our overall well-being than scarfing down a kale shake every day or counting every gram of sugar you take in (although I am not discrediting the importance of these things!). On Mother’s Day, I received a call that my grandmother, whom I share a birthday with, was in hospice house and not expected to live long. Thankfully, we currently live close to her and I was able to quickly pack up the baby and head over there. It was ironic for me, as exactly two years ago, I spent my first Mother’s Day in hospice house with my dad as he was nearing the end of his life. I just remember sitting there crying, feeling like complete garbage – so sad…like a million pounds were on my shoulders. I just remember thinking it was all a bad dream and that this really wasn’t happening. I really wasn’t spending my first Mother’s Day sitting a foot away from my dad watching him slowly deteriorate, right? While so many moms were enjoying their day with their kids, I was sad, but thankful I could be there with my dad. I knew the following year would be better and that is what got me through the day. I was thankful that I still had my mom and I would head home to her that night, in addition to being able to talk to all of the moms in my life that day – including my grandmother (who was ultimately losing her son at that moment, too). I wondered what it must have been like for her – being nearly 88 years old, and knowing that she was going to lose another child of hers. Out of her nine children that she gave birth to in her lifetime, she had already had to bury three sons – something I couldn’t even imagine. However, she was resilient – something pretty common for people of that generation – something that I admire and find to be a dying trait of many people. I always was proud of that trait of my grandmother – she was tough, and she taught me to be as tough as possible. I always gravitated to the complete opposite of what everyone else was doing, and she and my grandfather encouraged that in me. Grandparents play such a pivotal role in our lives when you really think about it – they raised your parents, who in turn, raised you. I always thought of grandparents as a set of second parents, and I see this already with my two children – how blessed we all are to have such active grandparents in my sons’ lives. I so dearly wish my dad was around to be there, too, but I know he is present in other ways.
As I drove the hour and a half to see my grandmother, I didn’t feel despondent like I did with my dad. Yes, it was Mother’s Day, and plans took a sudden change in direction, but I wouldn’t have it any other way – I had to see my grandmother, and I knew she would want to see me. We were born on the same day and that was always a special bond she and I had. It hit then that this will be the first year I won’t be celebrating my birthday with my grandmother this year, and she would have been 90, but….I will be celebrating her. It made me think of all of my friends and their grandparents – in fact, most people I know lost their grandparents awhile ago, so I feel really fortunate that I had her in my life as long as I did. I also thought to all of the grandparents I know and how much of an integral part they played in so many people’s lives. From the unconditional love, awesome cooking (usually), weekend visits, and stories told aplenty, grandparents offer something that really nobody else can provide. I know that not every child has the luxury and privilege of having a grandparent, but hopefully there is another figure in these children’s lives that can take the place of a grandparent. Through my years of teaching before becoming a health coach, I saw how so many grandparents even stepped up and basically raised many of the children I taught. I admired these angels so much for their role – they basically rescued these children from a life of utmost despair. While they may not have had the fanciest of things, they had what mattered most – love and someone caring for them. I had to give grandparents so much credit; I know how hard it is chasing after kids at my age of 33 – how do people twice my age or older do it? It warms my heart to see grandparents with their grandkids. I rarely see an instance where either person is not having fun.
Upon walking into the hospice house with my baby in tow, it brought back so many memories. I almost felt like I was stepping back in time, except this time, I did not feel the heavy weight of sadness that I did with my dad. While I was definitely sad to be saying goodbye forever to my grandmother, I had this overwhelming sense of happiness for her life wash over me – there was so much to celebrate in the 90 years she had been alive and all of the impact she created on this earth. As I walked through the halls to get to her room, the familiar sights and smells seemed to blur by. When I got to her room, an American flag and a Marine Corps flag were proudly displayed next to the door, which didn’t surprise me in the least. My grandmother was one of the most patriotic people I knew; she and my grandfather taught me from a very young age what it meant to sacrifice for your country. Both she and my grandfather served as active duty Marines during World War II – something I will forever be proud of them for. They were role models to me growing up – teaching me what it means to love and respect one’s country, even if you do not agree 100% with everything that goes on. I learned how to care for the American flag; I knew all of the patriotic songs; and moreover, I learned what it meant to really thank and appreciate a Vet. We would make donations to all kinds of organizations that helped Vets of all the wars, and to this day, I am still beyond moved when the National Anthem plays or when we learn of someone paying a sacrifice to protect our country.
As I entered my grandmother’s room, she was no longer awake or cognizant of what was going on, which was exactly how my dad was exactly two years ago that Mother’s Day. However, I knew my grandmother was ready to go; she wanted to be with my grandfather who passed away several years ago and with my dad and uncles. It was time for her to give up the harsh physical battle of diabetes and kidney disease that had been slowing taking over her body for several years now. I always joked that she had nine lives – which I kind of feel that she did. It’s something that we wish all of our grandparents had. I was at ease sitting with my family and just being with my grandma. I recalled all of the fantastically fun times I had with her and my family and I thought about how much of a matriarch my grandma was – she was the head of a huge family –a family that never experienced a dull moment or boring trait. Her Irish and Cherokee Native American roots ran through her veins with such pride, which she passed on to her grandkids. I think it’s one of the neatest things for kids to learn about their family from their grandparents. I know for my generation, many of our grandparents immigrated to the US and had to work from nothing to earn every tiny thing that they had in life. Hearing stories of the Great Depression and the hardships that my family went through stuck with me my entire life, making me grateful for everything that I had, while appreciating and caring for whatever I possessed, because I knew that many other people out there didn’t even have the bare essentials to get by. I learned how to thank and appreciate the hard work my grandfather, grandmother, mom, dad, aunts, uncles, etc. did in their life to support their families and provide with whatever they could.
Upon the close of my visit with my grandmother, I asked her to squeeze my hand if she could, which she did a little bit. I knew she knew I was there with my baby. I smiled for her, for that is what she’d want. Grandparents never want anyone upset over them – they are always the stoic rocks that keep everyone stable and safe. I am sad that my grandmother passed away two nights later, which was two days before the two-year anniversary of my dad’s passing away, but I was comforted to know she passed while smiling and calling my grandfather’s name. It really illustrates that even during the worst times, grandparents show their best. While I no longer have any living grandparents, I couldn’t imagine what my childhood would have been like without them when I was younger. I think it is so wonderful for anyone with grandparents still alive – if you are one of those fortunate people, you should treasure their presence here on Earth while they are still with you. Get to know more about your family while you have the best source around. Let your grandparents know how you appreciate them and what they probably have been through in life in order to make a great life for your family. I also completely understand that not all people are fortunate enough to have loving grandparents; if this is you, think about the people who could have acted as your grandparents instead – they played just as integral of a role. Lastly, if you are fortunate enough to have loving parents, cherish and embrace the new role that they will transition into – not only are they your parents, but they are going to take over that responsibility of being the steadfast pillars to the family to you and your children.
Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC. Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods, products, and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more: http://www.exponentialhealthandwellness.us or feel free to send her an e-mail at:firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Megan on Twitter (@MPowerNutrition) and like her on Facebook (Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC).