This morning I got a text from my step-sister. Her grandmother, Rosie, 98, passed just after sunrise. She stayed up all night singing to Rosie, stroking her hair, letting her know how much she meant to her. A few moments after Rosie slipped into the great unknown and nurses came in to comfort my sister, a rainbow filled the cloudy, mottled sky. One of the nurses from Trinidad said only kings and queens from her nation ever commanded rainbows. Rosie must have been a queen in her own right. My sister trembled, filled with the spiritual in a way so many of my family rarely are.
Rosie came into my life when I was about five years old and my father married my step-mother. Rose, as I tended to call her, was always a kind soul to me. She loved children and took great pains to connect to all her grandkids and great-grandkids. Upon meeting my own son for the first time, she scooped him up and took him into a quiet room to play little headbutt games cooing, “bud-da bud-da bud-da BUTZ!” He smiled and giggled and touched her face, a baby’s way of asking for more.
Her kindness to children, I learned, came naturally. Though she was the third of four children, all the others boys, she was a caretaker to them from early years. Still a child of 16, she met the man who would be her husband by 18, and was a mother by 20. And she continued to take care of all those around her. Sadly, Rosie lost her husband early in life, and she went from being a homemaker to an income earner in short order.
She continued to work until her early 90s, staying connected to people, having a purpose in life, keeping her mind sharp. She never let anyone forget that she knew more than you did, and was not some old lady to be tended to. She drove herself where she wanted until she broke her hip in a parking lot on grocery run when she was almost 93. She lost her independence, but not her tenacity for living life how she wanted. She was a role model that way.
As her frailty increased and mind started to lose it’s grip on reality due to dementia, she still had the ability to enjoy the simple things in life. She loved to nap in the sunshine. Enjoyed spicy foods and shrimp lo-mein from her favorite Chinese spot. Having her great-grandkids climb all over her was her greatest joy. But as all of us must, she succumbed to time’s march forward; she slipped away peacefully, without pain, enveloped in the arms of her granddaughter whose melodies of love let her know it’s okay to go.
So why do I tell you about Rosie? Because she leaves behind great lessons.
- Live as long as you’re alive.
- Have a purpose for as long as you can.
- Love those around you as much and as hard as you can.
- Enjoy the simple pleasures in life.
- Follow your own compass when it comes to life choices.
- Cherish the little ones as they’ll cherish you in return when you need them.
- Take setbacks in life as opportunities to grow.
- Making rainbows appear as a last act on earth is a pretty cool “I love you too.”
I’ll work on these myself. Thanks, and goodbye Rosie. You are loved.
By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C - Founder, Executive Director, Psychotherapist at The Body Image Therapy Center. If you would like to get in touch with Andrew please call 443-602-6515 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.