Mother’s Day with my family wasn’t just about Mom. It was about Grandma Linn and Grandma Zurawski, too. Because my grandparents lived at the opposite ends of Chicago, we usually saw Grandma Linn on Saturday and then gathered with the other side of the family and Grandma Zurawski on Sunday. My sister Denise and I often drew cards and pictures for our mom but also for our grandmothers, in particular Grandma Zurawski simply because we saw her more often.
But I didn’t get to know my Grandmother very well until the last years of her life. Through a series of events, I ended up spending the final quarter of my freshman year of college living with her. I was able to enjoy another side of her for the first time. While it was a little comical that she ironed my t-shirts, I also knew her life had revolved around taking care of her family. She often reminded me to finish college first, mostly because she didn’t get to go, instead helping to pay for her brothers to attend. She cooked me dinner each night – unless we went out to our favorite restaurant Baker’s Square, just a few blocks away, where she would linger over that last cup of coffee before we walked home.
She died less than two years later, just seven months after my sister’s suicide. And while I’m grateful for the time I had with her, a sadness in me still lingers that I didn’t have more time with her. And so on Mother’s Day, as we honor our moms, don’t forget all the other mother figures in our lives. The ones here on earth with us as well as the ones looking over us as angels.
Michelle Linn-Gust, Ph.D., is an international author and speaker about finding hope after loss and change. She is the author of several books including Rocky Roads: The Journeys of Families through Suicide Grief and Ginger's Gift: Hope and Healing Through Dog Companionship. Her first book, based on the suicide of her younger sister Denise, Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven? Surviving the Suicide Loss of a Si..., inspired siblings around the world in their survival after a loved one’s suicide. She is the President of the American Association of Suicidology and lives in Albuquerque, N.M. Read more about Michelle at www.michellelinngust.com.