Infectiously Happy

Thelma Rae

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My grandmother. Sunday marked 30 years since she passed away. Each year I know it is coming because of two reasons 1)my Aunt Patrice and I talked about it, through it. Losing her mother was, as she put it often, the saddest moment of her life. And 2) six months later my family welcomed my brother. I count the years by his age and this year he hits the big 3-0. My grandmother passed when I was only 5 years old so my memory of knowing her is based in what others have told me. More recently it’s been through unpacking and ultimately getting rid of the things that my grandfather and aunt couldn’t bring themselves to part with.  I found pictures, keepsakes and letters that all give me more information about a person I only know through the memories of others. One of the most beautiful things I found was letter from my Aunt Pat to my grandmother when she left for college. It was filled with gratitude and love for a mother who made her feel loved and supported. It reminded me of how my own mother makes me feel. She was continually loved and I watched as my grandfather, father and Aunt never really recovered from having to say goodbye to someone who everyone described as kind, loving and beautiful inside and out.

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Sunday brought up a range of feelings both happy and sad. Just like when my brother was born our family is still grieving but also celebrating Duke’s arrival. And with my Aunt gone a part of me felt a responsibility to grieve for her. I felt an intense longing to talk with Pat, listening to her favorite memories of her “Mommy”. We would laugh and cry together through a conversation that might last for hours. I miss all of it but at the same time I feel relieved that their lights,  my Aunt’s and my grandmother’s, are somewhere shining brightly together. My grandparents and aunt looking down on and guiding my brother, myself and my sons…

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I sat with my tears for a bit upon waking. I honored it. Then I headed to my yoga mat. I replaced my sadness with my breath, dedicated my practice to her, to Patrice and laid in Savasana with so much gratitude for both sides of it. It was in that moment that I came to the conclusion that I am responsible for the carrying on, not grief of my lineage. I am honoring them by loving on the grandson she never met, my brother Oneill. Raising and love the great grands I am entrusted with. With loving and being compassionate to her son, my dad, more now than ever as he is the last one remaining of that little family that lived and loved together on Seymore Street. That little family is a part of the little family I am building in my own little house. Thirty years later Thelma is still here.

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Thanks for letting me unpack that.

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