March 21, 2008

Holiday's with Double Meanings

This time of year, Holy Week and Easter, is especially hard on my family. My extended Monroe family, that is, not my wife-and-daughter family.

In 1999 my grandmother died on Good Friday. I don't even know the date, but I remember everything very vividly. This year I find myself thinking about it more than in past years, I think I've become more emotional since Abby's arrival. Seeing a birth changes you, and it's not necessarily bad.

My Grandma Pat had a huge part in raising me. My parents divorced early on, and my brother and I lived with my mom and step-father. At about the age of 11, when my mother was in Saudi Arabia in Desert Storm/Strike, we moved up to Maryland to live with my grandparents, aunt and father.

Grandma was an in-home babysitter, so she was home when we left for school, and home when we got home. She was a stabilizing force. No matter how bad a day I could have, she reminded me to keep things in perspective. She stressed family first, but also the value of a good day of work. I can not think of a day she "called in sick" before she got really sick, and then she worked as long as she could and made sure that every child had another good place to go for childcare.

I was young. I remember that I was in college, but living at home. I remember very vividly the cryptic phone call from my father, and being furious that people would not share more than "you need to come to the hospital." I also remember being the public face of strength for the family. We needed someone to make arrangements at church, and that is a role I easily stepped in to.

I remember Grandma more than I remember her death. She was always loving, and was the most accepting person I ever knew. Though she was a Presbyterian to no end, she would sit with the regular Jehovah's Witnesses that stopped by on a weekly basis. I never saw her turn away anyone from child care, even if she disagreed with some of their views. She taught us that education about a variety of things so that we could hold conversations with those same people.

I know that today is hard for me, but I will be fine. I know, more, that today is one of the hardest days for my grandfather, who I love and adore above almost anyone else in the world. He was there when I was baptized, when I was married, when I was ordained. He made a special trip to be with us at the hospital when Abby was born. He made another trip for her baptism, too.

He will be home and we will see him tonight for dinner. I know that hugs last longer on Good Friday in our family. We remember that Jesus died. We also remember that Grandma Pat died. They both opened their arms to those in need, and I love them both.

No posting before the end of the weekend, so Happy Easter to you all. I'm sure that Abby's blog will be updated, so check over THERE to keep up with her. If you can.....!


  1. That was a beautiful post. Timely and potent.

    I vividly remember that time - I came to visit you the day of her funeral (quite unannounced - I always have terrible timing. LOL). You were really emotionally worn out and trying not to show it. I can see why you would have been the one to be the "strength" for your family - it is good God granted you that for all of them!

    Losing a grandmother is hard - mine passed just two years ago this month - right after a family reunion. She had seemed in perfect health and it was a shock. It made us so much more aware of the contribution she had made to the family, in her own quiet way.

    And you are right - it is such a perfect segue to reflect on our Lord, who has done so much for us that we take for granted, and whose death we also mourn this day.

    Here's looking forward to that final Easter one day!

  2. It is a hard time. We've had tragedies on both Good Friday and on Easter morning, so this time (even when it's a different day or month from when those events actually happened) is always difficult. Big hugs to y'all.

  3. Beautiful, beautiful post, Rob.

    I loved my dad's mother very much, and she died right before Thanksgiving, which always puts a bittersweet twist on the holiday for me. It was also the first time I ever saw my dad cry. He broke down and sobbed like a young child, and watching him deal with his grief was an experience that I'll never forget.