I received a call from my mom early this morning letting me know that my grandma, her mom, passed away last night. This wasn't a surprise. We knew it was coming soon. She started progressively leaving us about a decade ago when dementia started getting a grip on her, and slipped away much more rapidly due a cancer diagnosis in the last year. She was 91, remained such a sweet soul right up until the end, and lived a full and happy life. While there is sadness in this finality, there is also a sense of peace and relief for all.
It is my own mom who is occupying the bandwidth of my heart and mind right now. Losing a loved one during the C-19 quarantine orders means that we have to set aside the usual rituals of hugs, family gatherings, and funerals or celebrations of life...at least for the time being. Without the usual traditions, I am reminded of how important it is to really rely on our heart's ability to release the physical attachment to a loved one; in exchange for hanging on to a deep and undying connection to the essence of our loved one's being.
As I reflect on my mom losing her mom--the person she adored and loved--I am reflecting on my mom--the person I adore and love. She is my hero. She has the greatest Superhero power of anyone I've ever met. That Superpower, her real success, is how she makes people feel. Not just me, but everyone.
We tend to live our lives as though our significance lies in what we do with our lives because that's what seems so important in meeting our desire for security or fulfillment in the moment. But I fundamentally believe what we do with our life doesn't matter as much as how we make people feel. I've heard from many people wiser than I that that's what matters at the end of life. And that's my mom's Superpower. So I would say she has life pretty well figured out.
Most people who know my mom know she had an exceptionally successful career. She was a hard-working business owner with an entrepreneurial spirit (thanks to encouragement from my dad) and she kicked ass in both her career and "momming". This shaped my idea of success from a young age, but I would argue that wasn't her greatest success. Her success, her essence, the thing I hold dearest to me about my mom is the way she makes me feel. The way she makes everyone feel. She's always been encouraging, loving, kind, optimistic, and welcoming. She (nearly) always has a warm smile on her face, doesn't take life too serious, and has always been one of my biggest cheerleaders.
When I was growing up, our house was always the house where my mom would welcome anyone and everyone with a smile and doting hospitality. She loved to spoil everyone and still does. In fact, she actually gave my daughters a bell when they were toddlers so that when they were at her house they could simply ring the bell to "summon Grandma Debbie" and she would take care of whatever need they had. You can imagine they still love going to Grandma Debbie and Grandpa Jack's house and ringing the bell! She always has fresh baked cookies and all their favorite treats ready for their arrival. My mom makes everyone feel special.
It's not uncommon for my parents to entertain 30+ people at their Boise home or for my brother and I to pack their Sun Valley home with all of our kids and friends. My mom always welcomes all of us, cooking meals, accommodating all the random food requests from each person, and going out of her way to make each of us feel welcome and special. She cares a lot about making people feel good.
I'm not sure if my mom is actually aware that she does this. She may not even know she has this Superpower. I've found that people don't usually have to try or even think about their true Superpowers. They tend to be so hard-wired in us that we just do it. Her thoughtfulness in the way she makes people feel is her Superpower that seems to just be her essence.
This--this essence--is what we remember about our loved ones when they pass away. That essence is never gone when they leave this earth. And I know my mom will hang on to the essence of her mom the way I do my mom. When I get self-absorbed in worrying abut my "doings" or what success is supposed to look like or not look like, I have to remind myself to come back to what true success looks like. True success is defined by how we make people feel. And my mom is my hero for how she makes people feel.
This is such a timely reminder for me right now, as many of us have been given the gift of slowing down and spending more time with our family during the C-19 pandemic. We have such a profound ability to impact people by the way we make them feel everyday, but especially today. I want my daughters to grow up remembering that their mom made them feel comforted, loved, optimistic, resilient, and encouraged during this time -- just as my mom has done for me.
Sending love to everyone today -- especially my mom ♡