Memento Mori

Memento Mori

It’s that time again; time to set aside the daily grind and enjoy the winding down of the year. Now that we’re back on the Canadian side of the ocean, we’ll be joining family for the usual celebrations. As such, the blog won’t be updating regularly, but check back on the first for the annual ringing in of the new year!

This is usually when I write some funny facts about the time of year or an upcoming activity. Instead I’d like to take a moment to remember my grandmother, who passed away shortly before Christmas last year.

My grandmother was a strong influence in my life as far back as I can remember. My mother and I lived with her for the first four years of my life, so she fills my earliest memories. Even after my mother married and we moved out, I slept at my grandmother’s house every weekend. She read me bedtime stories out of a giant faerie tale book. And when we finished that one, she bought another.

I remember baking Christmas cookies and wrapping presents with my grandmother for years. On Saturdays, we’d watch a lunchtime movie while I chowed down on “Kid’s Cuisine” TV dinners (I pronounced the ‘e’ back then). I liked to go through the videos stacked inside the big wooden side table, looking at each one before I picked the perfect movie for the week. We watched the very first episodes of “Doug” and “The Rugrats” together because my grandma read about them in her TV guide.

Together, my mother and grandmother ran stands in the local mall craft fairs. I was always excited for the weekend to roll around so I could spend a day or two at the stand. The mall became my backyard and I got to choose where to eat lunch. There was always a soft pretzel with cheese. And when I got older, a trip to the bookstore to browse the Fantasy and Science-Fiction shelves.

At the end of middle school I started walking to my grandmother’s house at the end of the day, where my mom would pick me up from work. It was because of that arrangement I met one of my best and closest friends, who is still a large part of my life today. My grandmother and I would talk about the books we were reading and the gift certificates we’d gotten for spending money at the local bookstore. She taught me how to play Canasta and Yahtzee. My grandmother was never the ‘hug you’ kind of grandmother, but I could always tell her honestly how I felt.

The last time I went to visit her, I asked my grandmother to pick a movie we could watch together for nostalgia’s sake. She picked two. The first was Apollo 13, which was my favourite movie for a long time (it still ranks pretty high). I can probably recite it word for word. The other was Jesus Christ Superstar, which has always been a special movie for me, even if I’m not overly religious. They are certainly the two movies most closely linked to our memories.

I was fortunate to talk to my grandmother on the day she passed away, despite the ocean between us. The Internet is such a wonderful thing; it connects us when life takes us far away.

I think I will always miss my grandmother most at Christmas. Not because she died so close to it, but because she was always such a central part of the holiday. For most of my life we’d go over to my grandmother’s house on Christmas day to open presents and eat a large meal. And usually before that, there’d be a gathering to bake cookies. Even after I moved away, my family continued the tradition and they’d always call me from Grandma’s house to wish me Merry Christmas.

A few days before I wrote this entry, I dreamed of my grandmother. It was a powerful image and it has stayed with me. As we move into the holiday season, I’m saddened by her absence. But I’m also warmed because I carry pieces of her with me. I always will.

Please stay safe this holiday season as you share the love and warmth with your families.

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