Grandmother’s Gift

Grandmother’s Gift

From A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul

Grandmother’s Gift

For as long as I can remember, I have called my grandmother Gagi. “Gaga” was the first word that came out of my mouth as a baby, and my proud grandmother was sure that I was trying to say her name. She has remained my Gagi to this day.

At the time of my grandfather’s death, at 90 years of age, my grandparents had been married for over 50 years. Gagi felt the loss deeply. The central focus had been taken from her life, and she retreated from the world, entering into an extended period of mourning. Her grieving lasted nearly five years, and during that time I made it a conscious habit to visit her every week or two.

One day I went to visit Gagi expecting to find her in her usual state of quiescence that I had come to know so well since my grandfather’s passing. Instead, I found her sitting in her wheelchair beaming. When I didn’t comment quickly enough about the obvious change in her demeanor, she confronted me.

“Don’t you want to know why I’m so happy? Aren’t you even curious?”

“Of course, Gagi,” I apologized. “Forgive me for not responding quickly enough. Tell me, why are you so happy? Why this new disposition?”

“Because last night I got an answer,” she declared. “I finally know why God took your grandfather and left me behind to live without him.”

Gagi was always full of surprises, but I have to admit that I was really taken aback by this statement. “Why, Gagi?” I managed.

Then, as if imparting the greatest secret in the world, she lowered her voice, leaned forward in her wheelchair and confided quietly, “Your grandfather knew that the secret of life is love, and he lived it every day. He had become unconditional love in action. I have known about unconditional love, but I haven’t fully lived it. That’s why he got to go first, and I had to stay behind.”

She paused as if considering what she was about to say, and then continued, “All this time I thought I was being punished for something, but last night I found out that I was left behind as a gift from God. He let me stay so that I too could turn my life into love. You see,” she continued, pointing a finger to the sky, “last night I was shown that you can’t learn the lesson out there. Love has to be lived here on earth. Once you leave, it’s too late. So I was given the gift of life so that I can learn to live love here and now.”

From that day, every visit became a new adventure as Gagi shared her stories regarding her goal. Once when I went to see her she pounded the arm of her wheelchair in excitement and said, “You’ll never guess what I did this morning!”

When I responded that I couldn’t guess, she continued excitedly, “Well, this morning your uncle was upset and angry with me over something I had done. I didn’t even flinch! I received his anger, wrapped it in love and returned it with joy.” Her eyes twinkled as she added, “It was even kind of fun and his anger dissolved.”

Though age continued on its relentless course, her life was vigorously renewed. Visit after visit added up to the passing of years, while Gagi practiced her lessons in love. She had a purpose worth living for, a reason for going on those last 12 years.

In the last days of Gagi’s life I visited her often in the hospital. As I walked toward her room one day, the nurse on duty looked into my eyes and said, “Your grandmother is a very special lady, you know . . . she’s a light.”

Yes, purpose lit up her life and she became a light for others until the end.

D. Trinidad Hunt

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