Sunday, December 11, 2011

What is strength?

What is strength?

For some, I suppose it means being able to bench press a certain number.  Or perhaps it means being able to lift heavy things (which many did this weekend moving my family members).  And yes, this is a form of strength.  And yes, I got to see this form of strength this weekend, in force (not from me mind you!  I'm a weakling!  lol).

Yesterday was a special day for many in my family.  One sister moved.  It was another sister's birthday.  And it was also my Grandmother's birthday as well. 

We were able to have a small get together for my baby sister after moving my other sister.  I'm glad we got to do it.  We moved all day and then everyone came here for pizza and cake.  It was the perfect way to reconnect and wind down after such a busy day.

Today we went to spend time with Grandmother to celebrate her birthday.  Today, I got to see strength in many different forms.  I don't think anyone showing up there expected what we got today.

My Grandfather was not doing well and in pain.  He didn't come out of his bedroom through the party.  We all understood.  How could you not?  The growing tumors hurt his back, a lot.  Some days are good.  Some are not.  Today was a "not" day.

The thing is, if you knew my Granddad, you'd know that he enjoys being around his family.  It brings him a real sense of joy.  He glows when he is around family. So it says a lot when he won't come out of his bedroom because of the pain he is in.

Today I saw strength in him.  He emerged from his bedroom, smiling, toward the end of the party.  I know that took strength.  But that was only the beginning.

I watched him smile as he made his way to the den.  He asked that we all gather together.  So we gathered the smaller great grandkids, and other family members from other rooms all together. 

There he stood in the middle of the room, smiling at us all through the pain.  Then he began to make a speech.  He told us how much he loved each of us.  How he'd "walk a million miles" for any one of us.  He gave this speech through his pain today.  And all we could do is try to hold back the tears. 

This was a different kind of strength.  He not only stood there in pain, but he stood there, facing his mortality.  He stood there, and started the process of his final good byes.  And we all knew it.  That takes strength of different kind.  That takes a great deal of courage. 

Then there was his wife, my Grandmother.  She sat there, watching this.  Watching the man she loves and adores, in pain, start his goodbyes.....  during her birthday celebration.  My friends, that takes a strength to a whole other level.  That takes an enormous amount of the strength.  Here we were, gathering to celebrate her life; and her husband emerges, in pain to start getting ready for the end of his life.  That woman's strength never ceases to amaze me.

And then, there is yet another kind of strength.....

As he spoke, we all smiled and tried to hold back the tears.  Human nature I suppose.  But that was not the strength of which I am speaking of.

We all know "that" person.  The person who hides behind sarcasm.  The person, who's emotional state, is usually a brick wall.  We have such young man in our family.  Good kid, but stoic when it comes to all things emotional. 

After a one-on-one talk with my Granddad today, he did the strongest thing I think he has ever done.  He openly wept.  He let down that wall he has had up for so long.  That wall that holds out pain.  He was strong enough to let it down today, if only for a few minutes. 

What gives people this kind of strength?  The answer is quite simple really.  The answer is LOVE. 

Love prompted my Grandfather to get up in pain, and face his family.  Love prompted him to want to see us, to want to make sure we all know how much he loves us.  Love prompted my Grandmother to stay strong, for her husband and children.  Love is what let that one young man in my family know it was okay to let that wall down, if even only for a moment.  Love is what made it okay that he didn't recognize me today.

I went to a birthday party this afternoon to celebrate life.  And that's what we did.  I left with a lesson on strength. 

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