Honoring Those That Have Been Lost, story by Kelli J Gavin at Spillwords.com
Stephan H

Honoring Those That Have Been Lost

Honoring Those That Have Been Lost

written by: Kelli J Gavin



I have always loved Christmas. The sights, sounds and tastes. I love Christmas trees, and snowmen, white lights and red bulbs and touring neighborhoods to behold the amazing spectacle of outdoor light shows. But most of all, I love spending time with family. Sharing an amazing meal, catching up with Aunts and Uncles, Cousins and family members who have moved out of state. This Christmas and New Year’s didn’t disappoint. Almost as if on cue, my heart was rejuvenated and my joy was restored after time well spent this Holiday Season.

A week before Christmas, I found our then 10 year-old daughter Lily (now 17) sitting at the base of our tree in the living room. She was smiling and gently touching one ornament and then another. I paused before approaching her. Her hair is growing longer and darker like mine. She has grown so tall and I find her looking more like me every day.

“Lily, what are you doing?” I asked and smiled as I sat down next to her.

“Mom, I miss Grandma Jo. She gave me these ornaments. I miss making chocolate pretzels with her and baking bread. But you know what I miss the most? Reading with her, cuddling with her. I miss visiting with her and telling her about school. Mom, I miss her so much.” With tears pouring down my cheeks, I pulled her close and vowed to not let go until she did.

Jo Cook, my mother, passed away at the young age of 67. In December of 2012, she was diagnosed with rare form of cancer. Treatment and surgery were not an option due to its advanced nature. My Mom, with grace and dignity, loved and prayed for and encouraged her family and friends until she passed February 27, 2013. My mother was amazing, overwhelming, kind and compassionate, and out of control when it came to loving others. She constantly gave of herself even when she had little to give, never expecting anything in return. She sang hymns and prayed fiercely. She talked to anyone that would listen, knew someone everywhere she went and sought out new friends daily.

My sister Angela and I felt her absence in the depths of our hearts. We both more than once picked up the phone to call her. To share with mom the joys and challenges of the day. It was always the 3 of us. So when Mom passed, Angela and I learned how to depend and rely on each other. What I overlooked in my grief was how my mother’s absence affected my children. They lost their grandma. The beautiful, very short, very talkative, commanding presence, wasn’t there anymore.

“Lily, I know how hard it is. I miss her so much. She was amazing. Chances are, we will never meet someone like her ever again. But I love how she loved you and how you loved her. You and your brother had such a special relationship with Grandma Jo. She may no longer be here with us, but all those special memories that we hold in our hearts, we can keep close always. What should we do this Christmas to honor Grandma Jo, and to remember her?”

Lily wiped a stray tear and beamed, “Mom, can we make Christmas cards? Oh! And chocolate pretzels and banana bread?! Mom, we could go and visit people at the nursing home in Chaska. We can talk to them and bring them goodies. You remember how Grandma Jo liked doing that so much? Could we do that?”

I sat in awe of my sweetest girl. “Yes Lily. We can do all of that.” So this Christmas break, Lily and Zach (14 at the time, now 20) and I made cards and treats and listened to Christmas music. We talked about great memories of Grandma Jo. I told them things that I remembered from when I was a child. We laughed and played games together and sang Christmas Carols in the car. We went and visited residents at the local nursing home and brought treats and cards. We honored my mother’s memory by doing all of the things that she loved. We will continue to honor her and carry on this tradition so that someday, Lily will share with her children the amazing Grandmother that she so fondly remembers.

When Lily handed over the last gift bag filled with goodies and a handmade card to an elderly resident whom we were told doesn’t receive many visitors, she whispered, “I am bringing you this gift and I am honoring the memory of my Grandma Jo. I miss her.” Not a dry eye was to be found that morning before Christmas.

Honor the loved ones that you have lost. Speak of them fondly, and often. Honor their memory by sharing and participating in activities that they enjoyed. Your children, and your children’s children will be forever grateful.

Latest posts by Kelli J Gavin (see all)