Insights arise as I swing Gavin while singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Iz's version)

Via Kathie McMillan, Flickr 

It’s early morning and I’m at my daughter’s home. I’m watching 10-month-old Gavin to give my daughter Erin and her husband John a rest break. (Gavin just had surgery—he’s fine—but they’ve been up most of the night taking care of him.)

I take him out in the yard for a swing. Somewhere between the back and forth, I have a memory of swinging his mom and her brother when they were Gavin’s age. I smile and begin to sing songs you probably know. I feel like a bird singing with abandon.

As I watch Gavin, I see Michael's bright eyes in him.

I remember Michael's favorite song, Somewhere Over the Rainbow by IZ. I find it on YouTube. I tell Gavin what I’m doing, then sing along.

He likes it.

Gavin puts his head back, turns towards me, and Mona Lisa smiles. I return his “I’m content, all is well, lips-slightly-turned-up gaze.

I loop the song and sing it over and over.

And somewhere around “dreams do come true,” I notice my daughter’s head peeking around the corner. She notices me notice her. Our smiles connect.

That precious mom-daughter connection lingers. It’s more than a grandma-has-a-song-repertoire moment.

That was yesterday.

Well, this morning I wake with a free-floating sadness while also feeling happy. How can that be? Well, I know I can have multiple feelings at the same time.

I want to attend to them.

This is what I’ve come up with. Holidays bring up memories. My sadness is a byproduct of a perfect little storm about feelings of loss mixed with gratitude, love, and compassion. I believe that memory is embedded in my cells.

I’m not surprised that after nine years and multiple grief workshops, feelings still arise about my son Michael continuing on. I’ve learned to pause and feel.

And when I feel, insights emerge.

Holidays bring forth a motley crew of memories.
Swinging my grandson is like swinging my children when they were young. And, of course I think of my son, my grandkids’ uncle, now. It's the time of year he graduated from Navy rescue-swimming school. In a month, he would be gone. 

Sometimes I forget that I’m grandma, not momma.
Thoughts of me as a mom to my daughter show up. How I did things, how I parented, what we did together. What is meaningful to me today is that I do my best to understand my daughter and her husband's parenting philosophy, guidelines, and wishes and support them.

Being a grandma softens my view of me as a mom (and my mom as my mom).
I have a better and kinder view of myself since being a grandma. I better understood my mom after my first child was born. I’ve spent time letting go of guilt about the things I did not do or could have done better when I was a mom (and accepted the things I imagined my mom could have done better). I know there is not a thing I can do today to change anything in the past. Acceptance grounds me in this day to what is happening right now with whoever is standing with me.

Every moment with my grandkids counts.
I know that every moment I say yes to being with my grandkids offers a chance to be fully present. I don’t want to miss a minute.

Family members who died remain with us.
I played “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” for Gavin to enjoy hearing a wonderful song and to lay a groundwork to practice giving him uplifting messages his whole life. I also played it as one of the many things I do to keep Michael alive in my heart.

When a loved one dies, it is not the end of the relationship.
My relationship with Michael continues to evolve and grow. I feel connected to him. I feel his presence and his love. Just like any relationship, it takes attention, diligent effort, and devotion.

And that song about what a wonderful world it is and dreams coming true? Looking into Gavin’s eyes as I sing helps me. I see the song’s message in him. Or better, his breadth of possibility.