Seven years ago today my Grandmother died.
It was expected. She had been battling cancer for the past year and we knew it was a matter of time. Yet even though she was on hospice, she was still able to throw an amazing family reunion in the weeks before we lost her. It was our last goodbye and also a chance to reconnect with other family members, like cousins, that we hadn’t seen in awhile.
My Grandmother was the great connector. Always keeping track of her travels, and the lives of close and distant relatives. Her kitchen was a gathering place. A place where I learned how to paint, make good food from scratch and play poker (she was also a card shark!).
Her sister-in-law, my great Aunt, turns 99 today. I have been able to see her a few times since my Grandmother passed and I am so grateful for both of them. Strong women, fun women. Graceful, caring and sharp all along the way. They shared a lifetime of stories and memories as mothers, wives and widows.
Today, September 26th, is always bittersweet for me. I am reminded how much I miss my Grandmother. However, I am also astonished by how much my life has changed since then.
Today is a warm and sunny fall day. While many things on the farm are fading, like the basils and tomatoes, there is a vibrancy in the air and a lot of new color. Some recent, substantial rain has brought green back to the pasture while our sumacs by the road are a cluster of reds and oranges and yellows. The butternuts and other winter squash have been cut from the vine and are curing in the field. I always look forward to the ritual of bringing them in to the barn for storage.
It feels almost as important to celebrate someone’s date of passing as it is to remember their birthday. Losing the matriarch of our family was hard. I wish she could have met my sheep, my husband, my children (not in that order). But overtime we have cultivated new family memories, new family members, like Eloise who is 4 months old today!
I have been on the farm almost seven years. Seven seasons of growing and harvesting. Although we have had vastly different summers weather-wise, I finally feel like we are in a rhythm with the plants and animals on the farm. We will soon pick the last of the apples and the grapes, after the first frost I will collect all the rosehips. We will prepare the flock for breeding, fall shearing and eventually slaughter. These repeating events are comforting benchmarks.
Over these past years, I have been trying to figure out what it really means to stay in one place. The realities, good and bad, of digging in, leaning in to my life as it unfolds. I have no idea what my Grandmother would make of this political moment, but I know she would believe that we will get through it in one way or another. I need to believe that too right now. I like to think she is off somewhere with the amazing Gwen Ifill (she was my Grandmother’s favorite news person) uncovering truths and leading us to better, more honest, days.
They say that “contentment is falling in love with your life as it is.” My Grandmother was by all accounts content. I am working on that, especially accepting the “as it is” part, not “as you wish it would be.” I love this valley and our community. I ache for the island of Puerto Rico right now. I am an exhausted parent trying to find windows of time to can food and harvest what is left of our crops.
Today is a special day for me, for remembering and also looking forward. I am thinking of you Grandma and I miss you dearly.