The inspiration of my company, the woman whose voice I hear every time I throw away an ounce of food and matriarch of one large, crazy, loud family, is my grandmother. She is no longer with us, but her life continues to influence so many of my decisions, personally and professionally.
My grandmother was born in Wichita Falls, TX. She studied in Nashville, TN for college, traveled the world, moved thirteen times in nine years, had five children, eleven grandchildren, and lived a very full life. She would talk about stories of her travels to New York City and having tea at the St. Regis while she and my grandfather lived in a small apartment in New Jersey. Her stories for NYC always remind me of Mad Men.
I remember my grandmother being a woman who loved to garden and cook. She spent hours in the kitchen making our birthday cakes from scratch or weeks prepping for Thanksgiving. She wouldn’t waste anything. As she got older we thought she was hoarding glass jars, but I realize now that she didn’t want to waste something that could be used again.
I was working for Hospice during the time of my grandmother’s illness. Death was everywhere I turned. It was devastating to hold the hands of other people when all I wanted to do was to hold my grandmother’s hand. The ups and downs of illness are emotionally draining for all involved. My grandmother was taken to a Hospice care facility and as she was being wheeled out in the stretcher, she waved to the house that she and my granddaddy shared for over fifty years. She died a few days later. As her suffering came to an end, our suffering began because we yearn for her.
Easter is approaching as well as Passover for the Jewish Religion. The Jewish people celebrate their freedom from Egypt’s rule while Christians celebrate the resurrected Christ. The celebration that both religions are recognizing ascends from suffering.
The Israelites suffered for years under Egypt’s rule. In the book of Exodus, Moses is commissioned by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, enacting a series of plagues in response to Pharaohs’ hardness of heart. The final plague that is set on Egypt is the death of the oldest child in each of the Egyptians families and their livestock. The Israelites are given their freedom after generations of suffering. [Exodus 1-12]
Easter is now seen as a time for bunnies, chicks, and candy filled eggs. Death has to befall us before we get to celebrate on Easter Sunday in the Christian faith. Jesus, God’s Son, was crucified and three days later arose from the dead. There is no Easter without Good Friday, which was also the worst Friday.
Each of these celebrations came out of tragedy: slavery, plagues, crucifixion, abandonment. Suffering and joy dance hand in hand, not unlike the mourning for my grandmother and my gladness for having had her in my life.
The Resurrection of Christ is a time to remember our gift of forgiveness. Someone died and rose again so that I may be able to live the life I lead now. My grandmother lived her life in a way so that my family could be nourished, comforted, and welcomed. My grandmother’s body has not been resurrected but the way that she lived her life is resurrected everyday by my company.
These Bible Cliff’s Notes don’t do these stories justice, nor does my short story do justice to my grandmother’s life, but it is the celebration and the true remembrance of the past that connects each of us. We get to gather together at the table to eat, remember, and celebrate.