I was considering not writing this post purely because it would be easier if I didn’t. I know this blog’s focus is personal finance first, but throughout these 3 and a half years of writing blog posts (and now producing podcast episodes), I know this is more than just a blog or podcast. Mo’ Money Mo’ Houses has morphed into a pretty solid chronicle of my life from 25 to 29. A lot has happened in that time frame, probably more so than 20 to 25 honestly. I’ve grown in more ways than I could have imagined, and I’ve also experienced things I didn’t think I would quite yet.
I’ve been very lucky throughout my life not to have experienced that much death in my family. I’ve been to more funerals for my husband’s family than for mine. Until recently, the only family member who passed away was my father’s father, but he was never a part of our lives and I’d never met him, so it honestly didn’t mean much to me when I heard the news.
That all changed this past March. I didn’t get a chance to see my grandma (on my mother’s side) this past Christmas because she wasn’t feeling well. I figured I would have the chance to spend time with her when Josh and I were set to visit Vancouver again in June, but that didn’t happen. I got a call in March from my mom with some bad news. My grandma was diagnosed with cancer and had only a few months to live. I booked a flight back home a week later and saw my grandma for the last time.
I didn’t know it was the last time then. After my visit she started getting better. She’s probably the toughest woman I know, so I just had a feeling she’d be around for a few more years and this was all just a false alarm.
When Josh and I visited Vancouver again in June, we didn’t go visit her. Our schedules were packed so tightly, we didn’t see how we could have driven all the way to Chilliwack for a day trip during our 2-week visit. We of course could have moved around or cancelled some stuff, but honestly I just thought I had plenty of time left with my grandma.
There was no doubt in my mind that I would see her again next Christmas.
But I was wrong. A week after I came home and was settling back into normal life in Toronto, I talked with my parents over Skype and they let me know my grandma’s health had suddenly declined. A week after that she was in the hospital. A week after that she was in the hospice. Last Thursday she passed away with my mother at her side.
I know I never talk about religion or faith on here, because honestly that’s something I’ve always liked to keep private. But I have written about how I was raised Catholic and was married in a Catholic church. I used to go to church every Sunday with my family, and have memories of praying the rosary with my grandparents when I was young and staying the night at their house.
My grandparents are very religious and are very well-known in their community. They were never the fire and brimstone Catholics you hear about on the news or TV, but were all about kindness, love, charity and making the world a better place. Although for the past few years I’ve only gone to church at Christmas, I’ve never given up my faith.
Because of that, when I got the call from my mom that my grandma had finally passed, I didn’t break down. I was devastated of course, but in my heart I knew she went to a better place and was no longer in pain.
Another reason I didn’t break down — as I’m sure most people would after getting a similar call — is because I just have a hard time crying. My two sisters have always been considered the “emotional” ones, and I’ve always been a bit more stoic when it comes to showing my feelings.
Part of it is because I just don’t like the attention or sympathy when crying in public, and part of it is I feel like I need to stay strong. At my grandma’s service, I really wanted to cry. I wanted to release the hurt I was feeling, but I just couldn’t do it.
That is, not until we left the church and went to the cemetery to lay her to rest. I waited until almost everyone had left her plot to shed my tears for the most wonderful woman I have ever known. When I was standing there alone — facing her coffin in the ground — I just couldn’t hold it in anymore.
She’s gone and never again will I hear her laugh, be able to listen to her adorable French accent or see her beautiful smile. I know she’s in heaven reconnecting with her loved ones who have been gone from her life for so many years, and although that does comfort me, I really am going to miss her.
Stories I Remember Hearing About My Grandma:
- My grandma grew up in Quebec and became a teacher at the young age of 16. She had something like 10 siblings and her father died when she was very young. They lived on a farm.
- When she met my grandpa, she was almost considered a spinster. I think she was in her mid-20s. They met at a dance. They were married for over 50 years and had 4 children.
- My grandpa was in the military and after they got married was stationed in Germany. He left before my grandma and she had to travel there alone — and pregnant — by ship. At the time she only spoke French. My oldest uncle Gilbert was born while they lived there.
- My grandparents moved around a lot for my grandpa’s military job, including living in Ontario for a bit. They eventually settled down in Chilliwack, B.C. though. The reason being, my grandpa went to a wedding in B.C. and just thought it was the most beautiful place he’d ever seen. After that, he convinced my grandma that they should move there. I’m so glad they did because if they’d stayed out East, my mom would have never met my dad, and in turn I would have never met Josh. Also, he was right. British Columbia is seriously the most beautiful place on Earth.
My Favourite Memories of My Grandma:
- Her cooking. She made the most amazing donuts and vegetable soup.
- She gave the best hugs.
- Sometimes she would talk to me in French without realizing it. I understand French, but it’s definitely not on par with hers. I’d usually answer her back in English.
- She took the worst photos. I don’t know how she did it because she had an automatic camera, but whenever she would take photos they were always of the most awkward moments. But I still loved them. She actually sent me this one photo of her and grandpa included in my Christmas card. It was just a photo of them sitting at a table in what looks like a church library with some food covered in saran wrap. My grandma has her hand raised and is caught mid-sentence. For some reason I’ve kept that photo on my nightstand ever since.
Thanks for reading everyone and letting me share a bit about this important moment in my life and a few memories of my wonderful grandma Colombe Hardy. Now go give your grandparents or parents a call and tell them you love them.
Life is short, but there’s always enough time to tell your loved ones how much you love them.