“You’re my favorite, you know.”
She would whisper the words conspiratorially in our ears. I can still see the little twinkle in her eye as she’d utter the sentiments quietly, so that no one else around us could hear the words meant only for us. And we’d giggle and nestle in for a hug, embracing the secret we shared with Grandma.
It didn’t matter that she’d say the same thing to all of us. Seven children (I know, seven, right? The woman was clearly super-heroic.), fourteen grandkids and umpteen great-grandchildren. We all got the same line. It was kind of a running family joke, actually.
Apparently, she had lots of favorites.
But it didn’t matter to me. I knew what everyone else knew. It didn’t matter how many of us there were; there was more than enough love to go around. And Grandma had a heart big enough to hold it all. So much so, that we all felt, unequivocally, like we were her most treasured.
Towards the end, when we were chatting, she’d occasionally look at me and inquire, “which one of my children are you?” The words always struck a funny (yet somewhat bittersweet) note in me because, being the only Asian in our family, I clearly looked a bit, well, different than her “other” children. But, sometimes, instead of correcting her, I’d just answer, “I’m your favorite one.” And she’d get that familiar little glint in her eye again. Even as some parts of her faded away, she still understood our secret joke.
To say that I’m grateful to my grandma for giving us life, kind of goes without saying. It would be silly to point out the fact that we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Grandma (and obviously Grandpa contributed to that as well). But what I’m most grateful for are the life lessons they both taught us.
- To work hard, but remember to play hard as well.
- To live life with passion, creativity, and a desire to try new things. You’re never too old, or too young, to learn something new.
- To laugh. That includes laughing at yourself every once in awhile. Because if you take yourself too seriously, what’s the fun in that?
- To enjoy the simple things in life. Like holding hands. Or going to rummage sales looking for 5 cent bargains. Or eating ice cream before dinner (she only let me do it once, and my parents were out of town).
- To be honest, and say what’s on your mind. Grandma didn’t mince words. I loved that about her.
- To say “I love you” to the people you love. And to say it often.
These are some of the lessons my grandparents taught me.
They didn’t just give us life. They were instrumental in teaching us how to live.
And now that she’s gone, I find myself left with questions. To be honest, for a long time now, I’ve struggled with the question of what happens to us after we leave this world. What happens to us when we die? Do our souls go somewhere? Are we reunited in some way with the ones we’ve loved and lost?
I don’t have the answers. And maybe, in my own personal journey to find them, the answers will allude me.
And then again, maybe I’m searching for an explanation that I will never really find. Maybe the real question I should be pondering is not where we go, but what becomes of the pieces of us we leave behind.
Realistically, I don’t even have to ask that question. Of that, I am certain.
I know without a doubt that there is a little part of Grandma in the hearts of all of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and all of the people whose lives she touched. We’ll hold the love that she showered on us, the laughter she gave freely, and spunky feisty-ness that she embodied, close to us… because it’s a part of who we are.
And we’ll do that, knowing that we were her favorite.
Because she certainly was mine.