I believe I’m three years old in this picture, standing between the two most influential women in my life. A baby between two pillars of strength.
My mom’s mom, my Gacky, died six years ago today. That seems impossible as I type it… six years have gone by since I lost her. I remember the exact moment the phone rang… I stood in the shower with the hot water pouring over my face, acutely aware of what Rob would hear when he answered it. I remember him climbing in with me, and wordlessly holding me as I sobbed, my tears mixing with the water swirling down the drain. I knew she was gone. Words weren’t necessary.
She had been in hospice for days, weeks possibly, and I knew the end was near. I had gone the previous day to say goodbye to her. I had held her hand, had kissed her cheek, had sung “You are My Sunshine” to her as she had sung to me so many years ago. I had never known loss like this before.
My Gacky was my kindred spirit. She loved fiercely, and she wore her heart on her sleeve. I take after her in so many ways. She listened in a way that told me that she truly heard me, that she understood even when words failed me. To me, she was the original model of motherhood, the source from which my own mom learned. I remember watching her with my mom, seeing how completely and proudly Gacky loved her. I remember thinking that I was witnessing something beautiful when I saw them together,a special friendship, something that I hoped I would be a part of someday.
Madeline was under two years old when she died. I was so thankful that Gacky had met her, had held her. I’d like to think they made a special connection. The night after her funeral, Maddie awoke from a dream giggling, and continually babbled “Hi Gacky” as I listened through the baby monitor, smiling in awe under my covers.
So much has changed in six years. There are now three little souls I tuck into bed at night. I’m no longer a “new” mom… although I know that I’ve barely begun. Motherhood is vast, without the boundaries of time. We learn from those who learned before us, and we apply those lessons, and that love, to our own children.
So, to my Gacky, who mothers still, you live on in the three hearts I hold dearest. I think you’d be proud.
Below is a poem that I wrote for my Gacky, four days after she died. I read it at her memorial service.
In honor of Marian D. Fiedler:
I remember you… In your gold house on Long Island, with sea shells in the backyard, and dinner on the stove. There were trips to the mall, and to the beach, and swimming lessons at the pool. You never got your hair wet. You would sit with me, on your bed, as I would sift through your jewelry and smell all your perfumes. I felt very special and loved.
I remember you… Visiting us in Nassau. Your yellow duffel bags with Poppy’s initials, and chocolate easter bunnies in your purse. You would let me curl up beside you on our pull out couch, and we would watch TV. Sometimes, lazy Poppy wouldn’t get up*. I remember a fight with a boy on the phone. I remember your words, fiercely, with tears in your eyes. “Love should never make you cry, Sarah Girl.” And you were right.
I remember you…In Cobleskill. Life was harder then, and suddenly you were alone. You used to tell me how much you missed Poppy, and that you still heard his voice. Now, I understand. You kept time with the seasons on your front door**, and you’d always walk us out and wave sadly as we drove away. I wish I had come more often.
I remember you… Over the last few years. Many times you were mixed up, and you knew it. You were scared. But… you always remembered me. You were so excited to be a great-Grandma. You thought there were twins. Maybe there were***. You’d give me Jolly Ranchers, and talk about silly things, but you still called me your Sarah Girl and hugged me tight.
I remember you… Last Wednesday. Your eyes fluttered behind paper thin lids. Were you reliving all the happy times? Were you holding your babies again? I held your hand, soft and warm, and you squeezed mine, strong like you had years ago. I knew you were saying, “goodbye, my Sarah Girl. I love you”. I love you too, my Gack, and I always will.
*Lazy Poppy was a song that my brother and sister and I would sing to my Grandfather in the mornings when we were little and they would come to visit.
**My Gacky was a very accessorized woman-including her front door. She had a wreath for every holiday, season, feeling, etc.
***When I was pregnant with Maddie, I experienced a lot of bleeding. The doctor told me that it might have been a situation of a “disappearing twin”- where there are two embryos initially, but only one survives. There was no way to know for sure, but my Gacky, without knowing this information, swore that there were two babies.