As some of you might know, I took a small break from my business over the last few weeks of July. My grandfather, who was 90 years old, unexpectedly fell ill while I was on vacation in Osoyoos where he lived. I took my vacation time to spend with my grandpa. For a week, me and my cousin, Christina, took the night shift and sat vigil by his bed from 10pm to 4:30 am. On various nights we were joined by my siblings and my husband. It was during this time that we recounted the fond memories we had of him. I read somewhere that the last of the senses to go is hearing so I was happy to share stories and memories in my grandpa’s presence, regardless of whether he seemed to hear them or not.
On July 24th at 1:24 am, my cousin, and I, held my grandpa’s hands as he passed from this world. Following his death, I extended my stay in Osoyoos to assist with arrangements and spent time with my immediate and extended family. I reflected on my childhood and teenage years to find material for the eulogy I had been asked by my grandma to write. A funeral followed and we celebrated and mourned the patriarch of our family. We shared stories, memories and most importantly, our time with one another. Much of what I experienced as a youth was given context, depth of meaning and a new layer of understanding. Following the funeral service we had a luncheon at my uncle’s home. During this time I spent hours with loved ones reminiscing, crying and laughing. The next day, a group of us got together for an afternoon on Osoyoos lake. We boated, swam, ate and even engaged in a diving competition. When I was floating in the middle of the lake, hearing the raucous laughter of my family, with the beauty of the small town in the distance, I experienced a youthful moment of deja vu.
After that time on the lake, I recall, distinctly, this sense of happiness and an underlying level of relaxation. Despite the stress that accompanied the illness, death and funeral of my grandfather, I felt oddly at peace.
I remain in Osoyoos, today, thinking about why I feel this rested and rejuvenated. I come to Osoyoos every summer and take a few weeks vacation, my mother lovingly dotes on me and I get a lot of sleep, good food and sun. Yet, I never feel like this. Like many others, I often feel like I need a vacation from my vacation. Not this time. This time I feel recharged. The only thing I can think of, is the sense of connectedness facilitated by the sad circumstances surrounding my grandfather’s passing. I spent quality time with cousins I rarely see; hours chatting with my parents, aunts, uncles and other extended family. I was surrounded by my siblings, their spouses and my nieces. I had uninterrupted time with my husband and children where they got to know me more fully as they heard stories of my upbringing and the history of my family. We were all together sharing, crying and laughing. We were connected. Bonding. Making new memories. We went for walks, shared meals, and spent time with each other in the evenings. Very few pictures were taken. Fewer videos. In fact, technology was an afterthought. We disconnected from the outside world and reconnected with our inner circle. Spending three days in that state did more for me than maybe anything else I can remember. Following the sadness, I felt really happy.
So I’m going to challenge you to give yourself the gift of connectedness. Disconnect from the busyness of life and technology and reconnect with something you’ve been missing. Whether that is time with extended family, a spouse/partner, your children, or pets. Share time with someone you love. Get outside and experience nature, water or your favorite spot. Give yourself the opportunity to unwind. Reminisce about some of your happiest days. What you’ll find is it takes some time for your body and mind to switch over to a relaxed state but don’t worry about that. Find the joy in who you are with and what you are doing. Soak it all in.
I’m grateful my grandpa, even though he isn’t here to witness it, gave me another great day. In my part of the eulogy I said, “I have a lifetime of memories of my grandpa.” Today, I can say I have a few more. Thanks grandpa.