It's been awhile. One of my little goals is to post twice a week. Of course, as soon as I set that goal my boss went on vacation leaving me with a pile of work and a line of people out my office door. I'll get started on goal accomplishing when my work load lightens a little.
One of the difficult things about being away is missing important events in the lives of our friends and family. We've missed countless weddings (including a best friend's wedding last weekend), birthdays, births, etc. We know that this is an inevitable part of living on the other side of the world. And although there are definite moments when I would really like to be someplace else, we know that this is where we are supposed to be right now. We also know that our family and friends understand how deeply we miss them. We hope that they know we are with them in our thoughts and prayers, participating in life's big events from a distance.
My Grandma Marj passed away on March 31st. It's hard for me to say if it was unexpected or not since I wasn't there; it was definitely unexpected to me. I found out she was in the hospital the day before she died. This is a hard one for me to deal with because when I said my goodbyes to my family in July, I didn't expect it to be the last time I would see Grandma. I think there is a little bit of denial going on in my head and heart.
My family deals with death by celebrating life. Sister Sarah told me that after leaving the hospital, the natural course of action for the family was to go for margaritas and talk about Grandma's life. She really did live a full life. She had an incredible memory and gift for storytelling, which we all benefited from. The stories are all accentuated with Grandma's catch phrases like "it's the pits" or "Oh my land!" One of my favorites is the story of 3 year old Mom "going to town" (or walking down the highway) in Grandma's bra and girdle; Grandma "could have just died." She was a great woman and a very special grandma.
I think my love of history, writing and reading is largely due to her encouragement. When I would visit her in the summers, she would drive me around to look at all the murals in Toppenish and take me to historical houses in the valley and places like Fort Simcoe. She's lucky I'm a bit of a nerd; I don't know what other 15 year old would look forward to an afternoon cruising in the Buick, sipping our iced lattes and discussing the newest mural in Toppenish.
One of my favorite Grandma moments was just this last summer on July 4th. I think my family is hilarious and sometimes a little bit quirky. Mary had bought Grandma some Uncle Sam Hat birthday cake candle holders on a trip to DC. What more appropriate occasion for Uncle Sam Hat birthday cake candle holders than the 4th of July? But the other big question that goes along with this is, what do you do with a 4th of July birthday cake with lighted candles on it when it's nobodies birthday? My family's solution was to sign the National Anthem, the whole thing, and then we all cheered as Grandma blew out the candles. It was a little awkward, but at the same time seemed perfectly natural for the Anderson clan.
I don't mean to talk about my grandma too much. To be honest, I just think she's great and I like telling people about her. This also falls under the category of Julie deals with things relationally and through conversation; I guess this is a bit of a conversation with myself that you all get to read. And I also want to show the processing we go through being so far away from home. Bottom line, we love our family, we love our friends, we try to be involved as possible from thousands of miles away. Sometimes being involved calls for a dedicated a blog post about the wonderful people that we care about and miss. In this particular case it's Grandma Marj, one of my all time favorites.