Heirlooming is the act of setting our soul in something, expecting it to come back bettered by the thing we set it in. In family, in relationships, design, music, films, friendly greetings, writing, travel, folded quilts, photographs. The fact is that our genealogical legacy teaches us that there are unintended consequences in everything we do. In whatever ways this manifests itself it is true- the reach is one thing that we have no control over. The only thing we are assured of in this life is the direction of our reach.
My Grandmother Ardell Marie Dean Zimmerman Adamson died last year. My grandmother wasn't my welcome mat grandma. She was not merely my maternal spoiler or advisor. She was my cheerleading chastising parent who loved me with a love so tangible, that even in the recounting of it I feel oriented and eternal. Eternal. Anyone who loves you that deeply leaves marks that make you. While discussing Grandma's death with my cousin Andrea last week, I realized that Grandma taught me to love everything I love. Food, health, hard work, friendship, visiting, music, art, travel, Jesus, stories. I am who I am because of her powerful push and embrace. I am, in all sincerity, hers. She used to joke that I ought to give her a birthday gift on my birthday for, without her, I would be nothing. She was right.
Her death was expected and it came after a long deterioration. By all measures I am glad for her release. Her release. I am not glad, however for my own. There is something hollow here because she's gone on. Her death, and the absence that preceded it, hold feelings that I continue to come back to. These feelings are a mine filled with truths that orient me within her legacy. I am reminded of her reach, her doings, her directions and the consequences of her life.
As I have mentioned before, I see regret as I see doubt. I don't feel it necessary to run away from the uncomfortable. I feel strong and sure about this now, but my confidence is a pendulum epiphany resulting from living in the opposite. Anxious to please and solve, fix and tidy, I often answered my dilemmas with idioms while remaining unsolved and uncomfortable inside. I do not relish in discomfort, but I have come to see emotional discomfort as a way to achieve greater emotional strength. This is true physically and is certainly true spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, etc. Regret is a deep seated stinging power that arrests us until we change course setting our souls in something different. Regret is a tool that holds us until we move in some forward freedom direction and being the obstruction that it is, once it lifts its purpose is revealed.
I have regrets about my grandma's final years. I regret that despite my one-car-poor-husband-in-school-two-young-babies excuses I didn't go to her more. She wanted me there with her. To hold her hand and talk of her cat Raja, to rub her feet and flatter her. I regret that her decline caused me a discomfort and that I kept myself from feeling the relief that came in her company. I regret that my terror of loosing her reserved me in a way that I didn't think possible. But that's just it. I didn't understand the principal of sitting in discomfort. I only understood fighting it and getting a good trajectory. I couldn't conceal myself. I was struggling with sitting in it alone and sitting in it with the woman who gave you life didn't seem all that attractive. I feel ashamed of what I missed by not knowing these things, but what I've learned here extends her reach and makes things that are hollow closer to whole.