Today marks the two-year anniversary of losing my grandmother on my mom’s side, Doris Clifford. I got the call after making it to the end of a hellish week, barely by the skin of my teeth. I was helping plan a massive gala in NYC and nearly collapsed by the end of the evening. We all joked later than she wanted to wait until we were all focused on something other than her to take her leave, just to know that we were all okay and going on with living.
When gala guests began to finally stumble to the door, I grabbed a congratulatory glass of champagne from the bar and checked my phone. Four missed calls and several texts from my sister to “call her.” I knew. It was the only possibility. And so I called my sister and cried with her as I sat in the front room of Chelsea Piers, looking over the rushing Hudson River and the nearby lights of Jersey City. The site of the Hudson at night will always remind me of saying goodbye to my grandmother and reveling in what a beautiful person she was.
My grandmother told stories. When you went to visit, you could spend a long afternoon (usually while she was slowly roasting a turkey in some mysterious magical way), and listen to her tell stories about each person in the neighborhood, whether they still lived there or not. Once she got rolling, you just had to sit back and listen in wonder. She knew how each person was connected–who dated who, who helped who move into their house, who used to be a plumber but now works for AT&T with Mr. So and So who used to live in the blue house down the street and brought Mr. Germaine things for his garden…etc. Most importantly, she knew all of our stories, and made them important and exciting. She took the mundane and made it beautiful.
Today I am thankful for the beautiful weather in her honor. Go tell one of your favorite stories and listen to someone else’s. These are the stories that make up our lives, from the mundane to the extraordinary.
Next year I’ll tell you about how she inspired everyone around her to constantly seek out new ways to make themselves more spiritual, and simply be better people. Heck, after she passed away, she even managed to inspire the priest that lead her funeral. Until then, enjoy the spring.