But there is one thing, one characteristic, that I feel I am lacking. A characteristic that perhaps cannot be inherited, but only observed in its original form and gently copied. The original form was a powerhouse of kindness, had the ability to silence negativity with one or two thought out words, and was a mother to all who knew her, despite where they fell in relation to her on the family tree or in the address book: My grandmother, who almost everyone in the family called Mom or Ma.
She was born in 1918, following a world war, and lived through a depression, a second world war, a civil rights movement, a women's rights movement, man's first step on the moon, and saw her family grow from two 18 year olds who eloped on Christmas Eve, to children, grandchildren, and even though she never knew them, great-grandchildren.
Her temperament cannot be done justice with the 24 letters in the alphabet. She was the combination of Melanie Wilkes, Mother Teresa, and Mahatma Gandhi, possessing the ability to calm my grandfather with a simple "Now honey," and make all who met her feel as though they had just spent time with a saint. Her kindness was infectious, and if she had a temper, I sure never saw it. My mom can only remember her raising her voice twice: once when the landscapers cut down one of her favorite trees, and a second time when the principal of my mom's school ripped out the hem a dress that she had painstakingly sewn because it was "too short."
One of my biggest regrets is not spending as much time with her as I could have. I backed out of sleepovers at my grandparent's house, and spent too much time arguing with my sister when I could have been learning from her wisdom. Perhaps this was because I thought of Mom as an immortal figure in my life. She had always been there so why would there be a time when she wasn't? The last person whose death I could remember was Dumbledore's, but even he wasn't truly gone.
The morning my mom told me that Mom was gone was heartbreaking and confusing. I remember crying but it didn't feel real. Probably because I couldn't believe it was really happening.
It was different when my grandfather died. He passed away after a long fight, during which we all came to terms with what was eventually going to happen. I knew that one day I would wake up and things would seem different. But with my grandmother it was a surprise, as though she had been robbed of her favorite time of year and a few more years of drinking coffee with Pop and watching the birds - at least, that's how it felt to 12 year old me.
I wish I was like her.
I like to think that along with my grandfather's love for dancing to big band music, I also inherited my grandmother's personality and temperament. But it isn't so. (Yesterday I yelled at a textbook.)
It's been seven years since her death and I've come to terms with the fact that her warmth, strength, and slow southern love can't be replicated in the coming weeks, months, or years. But among the things she taught me - how to perfectly crimp a pie crust, the importance of doing the right thing even if those around you aren't, that putting nail polish in the refrigerator will make it last longer - she unknowingly taught me the biggest lesson of all: that kindness and patience speak louder than anything.
Perhaps with a little practice, we can all be like Mom.