Friday, October 5, 2012


It has felt good the last couple of days to be in a normal routine again after having a baby and then an unexpected trip to VA. Library, grocery store, baking day. Back to the gym with baby Isla snoozing in the car seat next to my treadmill. (They had a little "class" for the new mothers before we left the hospital. I crossed out the part of the handout that said no intense exercising for six weeks.)

Just a few days before Isla was born, we started hearing the news that Gram, my dad's mother, was in the hospital and not doing very well. Her heart and kidneys grew weaker quickly, and she passed away on Saturday, September 29th. Isla's first week of life was full of interesting emotions for me. I had all the excitement and thrill of just having given birth to a perfect little thing. And then I had the sadness and heartache for Gram and the family taking care of her in her last days. Rick had a week off of work to help with the new baby, and those days were a strange mix of this perfect bliss of our family of six all having fun together, and then me tearing up when I would randomly think about not being able to see Gram again in this life. 

There was no question that I would go out for the funeral, so Isla and I hopped on a plane right away.  (Well, after lots of planning and setting up friends to babysit my other three kids for a couple of days!) Traveling with a week-old baby was pretty much heaven on earth. I sat down on the plane and realized that I had three whole hours to do nothing but snuggle my baby! Amazing!

The short trip to Virginia turned out to be this wonderful family reunion: much more a celebration of Gram's life and posterity than a mourning of her death. It actually felt like Gram was there, rather than any empty aching feelings like I maybe expected. I think that is a testament to Gram's life and character. She lived joyfully without her husband for 16 years. She raised seven children and mothered them with this calm, soothing and perpetually cheerful attitude. Before Gram passed away, she talked openly about dying and was happily looking forward to seeing her husband again. So I think it is fitting that we, her family, were all talking and laughing and having a great time together at the events around her viewing and funeral.

I think all of us granddaughters of Gram hope to be just like her. She was classy, wise, loving, forgiving, funny, and selfless, among lots of other things I just can't put into words. (I would love to paste the whole eulogy here so everyone can enjoy the stories and memories of Gram; there are some good ones!) I am SO grateful to have been born into the Dickson family, with Gram as a perfect example of the mother and grandmother I hope to become.

Sarah Shaw (Sally) Higgins Dickson.
Salem and I serving dessert at my parents' house. Never thought I would get to see Salem so soon!!
Pictures of Gram.

A cousin and her husband made this poster of Gram and Papa's family. Seven children, 38 grandchildren, and 23 great grandchildren.
I put baby Isla on the floor for  a second to do something at the viewing. When this girl sleeps, she is totally out!

Wish I could have these two as my mother's helpers full time!!
Baby snoozing in her car seat during the family dinner after the funeral.
Nursing mothers need lots of food! 
Five tiny babies! Gram's newest great grandchildren.
Libby, Soren, Whitney, Isla and Claire.
Everyone else admiring the babies!
I also didn't think I would get to meet Ashley's baby until he was big! So glad to have been able to see them.
And this is us, packing to go back home. The bed is covered in spit-up spots, and the jelly bellies are keeping me going. (My plane got in at 12:30 a.m.; I crawled into bed after driving home and taking care of baby at about 2 a.m. Of course baby eats again in a couple of hours, and then up with the kids to resume normal life. I'm still waiting for the intense sleep deprivation to hit me!)
And here is our Gram one more time, with Faye at the Outer Banks. She will be missed greatly, but I am already trying to be a more patient and loving mother in her honor.

1 comment:

Jamie Walton said...

My mom told me that near the birth of each of her babies, there was also someone beloved who passed to the other side of the veil. I have noticed the same trend with my babies, though there have only been my two so far. Someone dear has passed before or shortly after the birth of each child. I find in it a strange and lovely testament to the continuity of family, as if the two loved ones were exchanging places, allowing something new and important to occupy the well-worn space of something faithfully loving and steadfast. It is almost like a gift to the new baby, to have someone so dear offer up their place here on earth. I am sorry you had to say goodbye for now; it is so hard. I am sure she is proud of her girl (you!) and your sweet, happy family.