My grandmother Janet died four years and six days ago. I keep seeing reminders, the daffodils bravely standing on the side of the road. I opened one of the jars of preserves I have of hers that I keep rationing so that I can keep tasting the goodness that she saved for us to enjoy. I want to save each jar so that I can savor her memories for as long as possible, but I also want to make sure that I don’t keep them so long that they spoil.
I’ve found that I eat each jar slower and slower, savoring the taste, spreading the sweetness as far as it can possibly go. Just a drizzle will go so much further now than when I was growing up.
I know that when the last jar is gone that I will still remember her. I wonder if I should wait until my daughter will be old enough to remember to open that last jar. Or I wonder if I should try to perfect the recipe that she left for me so that I can preserve her memory by preserving a new jar of pears.
I imagine, however, that the best way to preserve her memory is to teach my daughter what it means to serve, to teach, to care, and to explore. Because beyond my shrinking collection of pear preserves is the growing knowledge that my grandmother gave me the gift of loving by example. She shared her hope through gracefully serving everyone around her, even when she was dying.
I won’t grow up to be exactly like my grandmother, even though I have her clothes and walk like her and talk like her. I will follow her example of persevering through difficult times and loving through hardships and pain.