It was ironic that on Oct. 12, as my column about my Ukrainian grandmother came out, I got a call at work saying my Irish grandmother, Grandma Yeomans, had passed away. I was poised to celebrate one grandmother in print and now felt like the words were a betrayal to my other grandmother, who I could no longer make it up to.
After mourning many things I couldn't change, my thoughts turned to my father, who would be left without a parent in this world. I wanted to reach out to him, to tell him I would be there for him, so I called my dad, who understandably wanted to grieve alone at that moment.
Left with a sick, sad, helpless feeling all I could think to do was pray. I prayed that God would take care of everyone, give them peace that surpasses all understanding and that my granny would be happy and wouldn't be in pain anymore. She had spent many years in a long-term care ward at a hospital in Westlock, Alta. and was bedridden and nearly blind when she passed away.
As I was praying I saw an image of my granny dancing with my grandpa, who passed away exactly 22 years before, on Oct. 12, 1990.
The thought gave me great peace, so I held onto it and shared it with my sister who told me Grandma and Grandpa Yeomans used to be avid dancers. In fact, the dance floor would clear when they came to do the foxtrot, so all could watch their graceful display. That was something I didn't know about my Grandma Yeomans, and as I'd find out, there was much more to learn.
My sister was tasked with delivering Granny's eulogy and she did an amazing job. During her speech I learned that Granny was the youngest of nine children, that while my grandpa was fighting in the war overseas, she saved her money and bought them their first home and, of course, that she loved dancing.
By the time I was born, the dancing days were long gone. My memories are of Grandpa in a wheelchair and Grandma playing crib. She loved crib and often tried to cheat if you weren't looking - sometimes when you were. She had a delightfully warped sense of humour.
One time she had my sister scared to open a box that she said had a cute but dangerous animal inside. After 15 minutes the box was opened to reveal a big block of cheese.
She also loved Stampede Wrestling and would argue to defeat anyone who dared say it wasn't real. My granny was a character and always set the mood for fun times at family gatherings.
Those fun times continued in Granny's absence as the Yeomans clan came from all over the country to gather and honour the woman who started our family. Aunts, uncles and cousins I hadn't seen for more than a dozen years were together under one roof, and it didn't take long for us to start sharing our memories and laughing together.
As the day drew to a close, I realized I had learned more about my grandmother that day than I had in all the years I knew her. I don't know why I never asked or took the time to sit and talk with her about her life but now, of course, I regret it.
The whole funeral experience is a heavy dose of reality and it caused me to question and think about many things.
While I can't change the past, there are many things I can do better in the future - one of them is investing time in my extended family. I plan to organize a family reunion back in Alberta in 2015 so we all have time to save and make it happen. I don't want tragedy to trigger our next get-together.
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