This post is part of a series I'm calling The Mother's Project, where I will be highlighting the incredible moms in my life throughout the month of May. Check back for another post tomorrow!
This post is the toughest to write this month, so I'm just gonna do it first. It's gonna be the longest one I wrote (most likely), so buckle in.
Mimi is my mother's mother. I'm not positive how she got the name, but I think it came from my younger sister who couldn't say "grandma." It just stuck. All of us call her that, even her own children.
She is probably the most reliable person I know. She has four children, 11 grandkids, and 20 great-grandkids. And she has been an active part in every single person's life since the day they were born.
Despite the sheer number of people in her life, she has accomplished making every single one of us feel loved, appreciated, and important. For example: when I was little, she would take me shopping every year on my birthday. She would hand me a $20 bill and let me pick which store I wanted to go to. She would take me to McDonald's and then patiently walk down every aisle of K-Mart while I selected some terrible craft items. She did that for all five of us. Who are all born in June. She did that FIVE TIMES each June. What a saint.
I'm not sure when this stopped. She probably thought I was too cool for shopping days with Mimi so she eventually just started give me the $20 bill in a little money envelope every year. (It's not true! I have never been too cool Mimi!)
But I saw her a lot more than on birthdays. She was just ten minutes down the road. We saw her for each holiday and she helped my mom out with us kids often. When I got older, she would come to my soccer and basketball games regularly, stop by for dinner, and invite me to her house to play games and eat snacks. (There were endless hours of Chinese checkers, Rummikub, puzzles, and Uno at her house accompanied by Swiss lemonade and Lebanon bologna sandwiches.)
I went to two different colleges, Africa, and eventually Colorado. I saw Mimi on all my visits home and received cards and love from her regularly. She moved in with my parents last year which was amazing because I got to talk to her often and see her every day I was home.
Her youthful spirit and is incredible. I distinctly remember her playing softball and basketball with me when I was in middle school. She would have been in her 70s then. She is known to have marathon ironing sessions (the woman irons sheets!) and she bowled in a league weekly until she was 84! She loves to laugh and her mind has always been as sharp as any of us kids. Mimi's presence in our lives is just a peaceful light. She is wise, calm, patient, and more than anything, she is a servant. I can't remember a time that I was with her that she wasn't helping someone with something. Her willingness to serve others is unmatched.
I chose the word enduring for her because I think it sums up all the things I just said above, but also because she has endured through so much. My grandfather passed away just after I was born when Mimi was only 59 years old. He was the love of her life and she still gets teary-eyed talking about him. She remarried ten years later to a wonderful man and spent 17 years married to him. He passed away last year. In those years, Mimi broke her tailbone and wrist, lost her gallbladder, and overcame bladder and uterine cancer.
She has faced much sorrow and much physical pain and ya know what? I have never once heard her complain. She has lived life with a huge smile on her face, praising the Lord through each and every season.
This is where this post gets a little hard. Last month, Mimi had a major stroke. In one day, she went from perfectly healthy and able-bodied to a very different version of herself. She cannot speak or use the bathroom or eat solid food anymore. If I know her like I think I do, this loss of independence is the hardest thing she has ever had to do. And if I know my mom like I think I do, it's the hardest thing she has had to do as well.
She is living with my parents in their new home. I know we are all so grateful to not have lost her last month, but I don't want to minimize how difficult this must be for her. I wish so badly I could communicate with her and ask her exactly what she wants. In the meantime, I will just keep suggesting a diet of root beer floats, her favorite food.
Mom, could you please read this part to Mimi?
I miss you! I wish I could be back in PA this weekend to celebrate Mother's Day with you. I'm writing a post on my blog about you because I really think the whole world should know about you. Unfortunately, I only get just a handful of the whole world reading this, but that will just have to do for now.
I wanted to tell you how proud I am of you. When you had your stroke last month, they said you would never walk again. The next day, in front of mom and Doris, you silently climbed out of your bed and walked to the bathroom. Then they said you would never speak, but when you walked into mom and dad's new house, you said very clearly, "Hi Max!" to our little Maximus. Just last week we were FaceTiming and you giggled at one of my jokes and said, "Oh!"
As I've talked to friends out here in Colorado about how remarkable your recovery has been and how you keep surprising the doctors, three of them have said, "Oh, I see where your personality comes from then." I've never once thought that my stubborn determination could come from you—one of the kindest, most patient, and soft-spoken people I know ... but them saying that made me feel so good. If I am even just a little bit like you, then I will have accomplished more than I thought I was capable of in this life.
I am so, so proud to call you my grandmother. And watching your daughters help you transition into a new stage of life, it's more evident than ever that you were an incredible mother to them. They are thrilled, humbled and honored to be able to give you the quality of life you provided for them.
The fact that I have a woman like you in my lineage gives me confidence to pursue my boldest dreams and the faith to walk through life with an assurance of strength.
Thank you for your influence, your example, and your love. I can't wait to see you this summer ... I have a feeling we will be sharing some root beer floats and some laughs!
P.S. I have been having dreams about you lately. And we talk a lot—I think it's my mind's way of helping me remember what your voice sounds like. A couple nights ago, you were complaining to me about the veins in your legs and how you hated how they looked. I'm here in real life to tell you that your legs look great and that isn't something you should be worrying about right now.