THIS morning we woke excited to pick blueberries early, before the heat set in. Even though it was in the 80s before 7am, and felt like Florida humidity, my little family was laughing and eating as many blueberries as we put in our bucket.
We were celebrating. My great grandmother, my granny, was expected to go on to Heaven at any moment. My grandmother, granny’s daughter and my daughter’s namesake, was whispering my goodbyes and giving granny my ‘see you again’ kiss at the family homestead in Florida. This was not my ideal goodbye, but my little family laughed and cried at one of our favorite places here in the Washington DC area, a secluded, family run blueberry patch tucked in the mountains close to Harper’s Ferry. It’s what granny would want.
A celebration of the goodness God has blessed us with while passing the wonderful love she instilled on to our 4-year-old daughter, Granny’s oldest great great grandchild; her only great great granddaughter. I selfishly get, and have gotten, to celebrate my granny through the memories my daughter has built and the stories she now knows.
Currently, there are tears mixed with laughter. But, the understanding, and love, of a true southern woman has been passed from Granny down 4 generations as she played a role in raising strong, southern women. We are a close family. Something my grandmother made sure was a trait she passed from Granny’s example down from my mom, to my sister and me and to my daughter. Her namesake understands the togetherness of family, even at such a young age. Granny was present at Sunday dinners, Christmas morning breakfasts, every birthday celebration, peanut boil or Easter egg dying session until I moved away. Four generations gathered for everything. In 2012, I then watched my 98-year-old granny play peek-a-boo with her first great great grandchild. Then, granny, at 99-years-old, and my Little Lady would be forehead-to-forehead while smiling and looking at each other, no matter what was going on around them. We all knew it was a moment to cherish. Five generations at the dining room table; my mom, grandmother and myself silently crying tears of joy as the first and fifth generation played and talked like they had known each other forever. As Little Miss grew, I would mail the drawings and letters she wrote to granny, or to grandmother to give to granny. Sometimes, talking my Little Lady out of sending freshly picked vegetables, flowers with the roots and dirt attached or toys she knew Granny would enjoy as much as she did. Even as my great grandmother started to focus on getting to Heaven, the woman in my family shared granny’s stories and memories with my Little Lady to help keep the generations close.
Watching my preschooler understand that granny was about to go to heaven has been watching the importance of family shine through. Little Miss has made it her task to show the laughter and the importance of celebrations. She understands her granny, her friend, is going to Heaven; has gone to Heaven. She is excited granny gets to be with her mom and dad and Gaggy, my great grandfather; Little Miss sees the happiness granny has been longing for. She wants to make us feel better, just like granny would do.
Our Little Lady can see and hear the sadness at times, even when we say it’s a good thing. So, she makes up songs on the piano to cheer her namesake up, writing notes – even learning how to spell ‘Love’ – so her nonnie, my mom, and grandmother know ‘what love looks like’.
I am fortunate to see what a celebration of such an impactful woman looks like through the eyes of a 4-year-old. A blessing you should experience, too! A 4-year-old telling her 101-year-old great great grandmother goodbye. Telling granny she will see her soon. Telling her to have fun. Writing her one last note to go on her grave. That is understanding the strength of family and the ability to pass down the importance of family in 5 generations.
This week we will use the fresh blueberries picked this morning to make Blueberry Surprise and gather around the dining room table to celebrate a woman who mastered keeping a family together around the dinner table. I will keep laughing and crying. But, I will keep reminding myself how fortunate I am to watch my daughter write the last letter to her great great grandmother, her granny.
The last three years:
Granny turns 99, Granny turns 100 & Granny turns 101
(5th Generation Pictures ©Dawn McKinstry Photography)