Sunday, March 23, 2014

teaching love

this weekend i was away at an annual event for a social running club i'm in. we were in a beautiful location; and i had some beautiful souls there with me. the campground/resort we stayed at had limited mobile phone reception (i.e. i had none; some people had a bar or two). the resort provided wifi, but the coverage wasn't great, and i wasn't able to receive or send the crazy amount of messages, texts, snaps, and comments (etc!) that i normally do.

saturday morning, in a moment of connectivity, several messages came through from my mother. not "hi, darling!" messages, but "call me now; i have something to tell you" messages. the wifi wouldn't handle me facetiming or skyping her, and i began to get really upset. i felt like i knew what she was going to tell me, but i needed to talk to her. the anxiety of trying to get a way to talk to her was visible. one of my lovely friends there with me this weekend walked by and saw; she allowed me to borrow her mobile and straight up call my mom's US mobile phone.

my mom told me that her mother (my grandmother) had died. it wasn't necessarily expected, but she was 96 1/2 years old (yeah, we start counting half years again in old age!), so it wasn't necessarily unexpected either. as soon as she told me, i was in tears.

the rest of the morning was spent in an adventure to get to reception-land (which included taking a ferry), messaging and calling my mother and sister, and then borrowing another friend's mobile when my battery died while far from my charger (in reception-land) so that i could finish the skyping. we decided i wouldn't go back to the US, but that i'd write something for my mother to read at the funeral in a few days.

back at the ranch that afternoon, most of the runners i'm closest to already had been told. i had so many caring people around me asking me about my grandmother, hugging and holding me, even crying a little with me. even though it was hard being away from my home hearing the news, i'm grateful that i was surrounded by such supports.

as people began asking me about my grandmother, memories swelled inside. i spent today sitting with these memories, and thinking about what my grandmother taught us. one of my friends recently said that he wanted to leave a legacy in this world. i suggested that he was doing that through his children. which really got me thinking: what is my grandmother's legacy in my life?

what i've come to is this: she taught me to love. (she was a teacher, so it makes sense that she would've taught me something important!)

my grandmother taught me to love directly: she loved us without judgement, without criticism, and with her whole self.

my grandmother taught me to love indirectly: last week my mom sent me a newspaper clipping of an article that she had written about teaching good eating habits. the story featured an anecdote about me as a two-year-old copying everything my mother was doing in the grocery store. i was toddling along behind my mother, copying her face, her stance, even her squinting at the vegetables. i have copied behavior modelled by my mother in many facets of my life, including the loving and caring actions that she learned from her mother.

my grandmother taught me to love through the way she lived her life: my grandmother had three life loves. her first husband died of a heart attack when my mother was only 18. my grandmother loved again: her second husband died when i was three. and then my grandmother had an international love affair that lasted the rest of her life (neither wanted to move permanently across the ocean). she wasn't fearful when she lost love, she didn't get stuck; she just loved more.

and my grandmother taught me how to love with love: when i was about 8, and my sister 5, my grandmother visited. she was upset with how aggravated shayna and i got with each other. she told us we should never call each other mean names; we needed to love each other. but then, because she also taught her lessons with humor and love, she gave us alternative names that we could call each other. (she suggested that i call shayna an "idiotic imbecile." the phrase was phrase unknown to me, but i ran with it!)

i'm grateful to my grandmother for her legacy. and i promise her memory that i will keep practicing and sharing lessons in love.

and to all the others who have also taught me about love: i love you.


  1. Beautiful sentiments, Spring. Thank you for making it a personal, loving tribute. You are so right....She did teach us love, not so much in words, but by the way she lived. She was a real lady, and I've always wished I could be thought of with the respect and admiration with which I always thought of her. Thank you again. I love you. Charnie