This morning, my grandmother passed away.
It was a long illness. I remember the first time I asked people to pray for her on the old blog, I was pretty pregnant. That’s around three years ago now. She had a lot of pain and problems closer to the end, and I really do believe she’s in a better place now, without pain.
It still hurts.
Loss sucks. No matter how long you expect it or how quickly it’s upon you, it sucks.
This is the most I’ve missed my family since moving to Germany. There were other occasions where I wish I could have been with them, but this time it burns because I can’t. This post isn’t about me though. It’s about a woman who inspired me.
This is a tribute to my ouma.
My grandmother was one of the most non-judgemental and loving people I ever had the privilege to know. Her heart was universal in scale. She accepted anyone into her life and helped in whatever way she could, even if it meant for her to go without. My dad told us a lot of stories of how my grandmother would simply divide food if more people arrived uninvited for lunch (which happened often), she never showed anyone away.
As one of her grandchildren, she went out of her way for us. When we needed it, she would scold us, but always with love in her eyes. She would easily share her bed with one of the grandkids, if it meant she could see us. And she spoilt us in her special way. Her treats and pudding were legendary. My grandmother’s trifle was amazing!
I loved the way my grandma’s eyes lit up when she smiled. And I love that most of her kids and grandkids have those eyes. ‘Wessels eyes’ as we call them.
I loved my grandmother’s stubborn streak, even if it gave her kids extra grey hairs sometimes. I loved the way hear hearing aid seemed to malfunction in moments when she didn’t want to hear what was being said, or how she only heard partially when it pleased her.
I loved soapie time in Ouma’s house. When the soap operas came on, she was glued to that TV. She would also tell you everything that happened in every character’s past if you sat and watched with her. By the time her programs started, dinner had been consumed and the dishes were either done or neatly packed into the sink.
I loved my grandmother’s kitchen and all the conversations that happened around the kitchen table. I loved that it was always open when we got there, even if Ouma didn’t know we were coming.
I loved my grandma’s sayings and expressions. She had a golden sense of humour and always said things in the most interesting and unique way. Sometimes straight to the point and other times laced with jest.
I love the fact that though my gran never finished school, she was street savvy and not afraid to work. Her various endeavours to earn extra cash, from knitting jerseys to woodcarving, were always done with dedication. And, of course, artistic flair. Due to her artistic nature, most of her grandkids have at least some art sense.
I’m thankful that my grandmother got to see me and my cousins married, but I’m sad that she’ll miss the weddings yet to come. I’m thankful that she got to meet Nikke, Akira, Stormy, Luke, Kayla, Léja and William, but I’m sad that she won’t hold more little babies in our family.
I’m thankful for the lessons she taught me. Most of those just by example. My grandmother taught me to accept people. She taught me that holding someone’s past or mistakes over their heads is wrong. She taught me that age makes no difference when you have the desire to learn new things. She taught me that an open heart builds incredible things. She taught me that distance is just a number, but love can conquer it.
Today, my heart is breaking. But it’s also soaring. My grandmother didn’t die without leaving a mark on the world. No, she leaves an incredible legacy of incredible people in her wake. My family consists of amazing, unique and loving weirdos. You’ve never seen a family pull together like mine does. When someone is in need, the cavalry is already coming. I’m thankful to be a part of that.
No matter what happens, we’ll never forget her.
Ouma, I love you. It’s an honour to have known and be moulded by you.