Grief is never isolated to one person; it is felt across communities and especially across families. Read below for two accounts–one from the granddaughter and the other from the daughter–of grief and how they experienced the same loss in different ways.
Lauren Vernon Prescott Granddaughter
When I think about my G-mom I often think about a term that I learned in a course on pastoral care at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary called “anticipatory grief.” My G-mom was a larger than life personality. She was an icon in the Dallas fashion world, she was magnetic and she was the personification of love. She was also diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when I was ten years old. We lost her gradually until her death in 2010. Towards the end of her life, my biggest grief was witnessing the “anticipatory grief” of my mother and grandfather, but particularly my mother.
The reality of Alzheimer’s is that I lost my G-mom before she died, and the reality of faith is belief in life eternal. I have memories of learning how to cook scrambled eggs and wrap Christmas gifts. Of going shopping at North Park and eating lunch at Barney’s. Of attending fashion shows, witnessing confidence, integrity and an unmatched outpouring of love for others. However, it was not until I had a child of my own that I witnessed my G-mom come alive again. When my mom became a grandmother she wrestled with picking her “grandma name,” but finally decided to honor her mother by being called “G-mom.” Witnessing my mom interact with my son and nephew brings back vivid memories of my own G-mom (so much so that sometimes I do a double take). I used to feel guilty that it was getting harder and harder to emotionally connect with the memory of my G-mom, so now my heart aches with joy to have her back!
Kim Dawson Vernon Daughter
Hardly a day goes by that I don’t think of my mother. Someone says they knew her or used to work with her, talks about how their parents had/have Alzheimer’s, a song or saying reminds me of her. After her death 8 years ago, I still tear up frequently, especially writing about my mother’s influence in my life and on our family.
I was recently in a women’s group where several women were talking about being made to feel inadequate and subordinate to men or feeling insecure as women in various times in their lives. I wanted to say I don’t recall ever feeling that way. Why? Sure I have felt belittled or angry that I was talked down to at times by men, but it just made me more determined to function as an equal. But the answer of why I felt that way was very clear to me- my mother. Her influence was to raise strong, independent, determined children, girls and boy. I don’t recall being told that I could function equal to men, I just felt that it was a given from both of my parents.
This confidence and encouragement has shaped my entire life- from my 43 year marriage, to my career as an obstetrician/gynecologist, to my relationships with male and female colleagues and friends and my role as a parent and grandparent. I know that my mother’s influence is ongoing in her grandchildren. When I would say my daughter was “difficult” when she was little, she would tell me, “Not difficult, she is determined and will be a self sufficient young woman.” And she is.
When my first grandson was born, I needed to pick my grandma name. My mother called herself
G-mom. At first I thought that was her name and I needed to pick another grandma name. But then I decided that it would honor her, and she would love having her great grandchildren use that name. Now whenever I walk in to pick up my grandsons or I call them and say, “It’s your G-mom,” it reminds me of her. I can even hear my mom’s voice saying “It’s your G-mom.” And it is a sweet memory of her love for all of us!
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