Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Today marks 73 years since my mother-in-law, Sheila, was born. Even though we lost her more than two years ago, it just wouldn't be right to not honor her on this day. There aren't many days that pass without my thinking of her, or our family not sharing a memory of when she was still with us. Last Sunday, our family went to services at her church outside of Pittsfield to celebrate her birthday. Representing the family were three of her children, as well as her three youngest grandchildren, and we were warmly welcomed by the congregation. There is a beautiful wall hanging created in her honor very prominently displayed, and numerous people expressed their fondness of Sheila, and the loss they still feel by her absence.

Poor Quinn was just a few days shy of his third birthday when she died and hasn't quite grasped where she went. I've always tried to keep it simple for him and explained that Grandma's body had a sickness which meant she could no longer be with us in person, but that her love and spirit continue to live in our hearts. He seems to have held onto this fairly well, and I really do believe he has nonspecific memories of her, and the love she showered on her family, but there are times when he asks questions and I really fumble for an answer which will satisfy him.

After church we all took a ride to visit the cemetery where Sheila is buried, near her parents, two of her brothers, and her beloved sister, Patty. In the car, Quinn told us that he wanted Grandma to come back and be normal again. Tom explained that she was never "normal" and that we just had to remember her and, in that way, she would always be alive inside of each of us. This triggered a barrage of additional questions and comments that eventually overwhelmed us - not really in an emotional way, but more of in an intellectual way. How does one explain death when one doesn't really know what their own understanding of it is?

The cemetery in Dalton is small, filled with Irish surnames and surrounded by tall evergreen trees - a lovely setting. Across the street from the family plot, there is a large house seemingly as filled with children as the yard is filled by a pool and a trampoline and an oversized tent. The noise of the children, their shrieks and laughter, are the perfect soundtrack for Sheila's final resting place. Happy birthday, Sheila. We love you and you do indeed live in our hearts.

1 comment:

  1. That was a lovely tribute to your mother in law.