It's been a long week.
It's been a long month.
My grandpa, 91 years old, died one week ago.
He spent his whole life on his Iowa farm, working the land, growing produce and corn and beans and farming his pigs. I never once heard him raise his voice and he was as steady as the sunrise. He worked hard, loved to read and think and discuss ideas, and he was the patriarch of a huge family.
The oldest child of 8 kids, his own father died young, leaving my Grandpa to walk his sisters down the aisle when it came time for them to marry. When we visited him a few days ago, he told us, "I'm not afraid to die. I just don't know how."
My Grandpa was eager to pass on his heritage. He spent countless hours labeling photos and making copies for all the branches of his family tree. He didn't want any of us to forget where we came from.
On the day of his funeral, all 18 of my cousins were the pallbearers. I looked into the faces of the grown adults that I had once played "house" with on the farm. We ate Freezes and ran in the sunshine together. We picked apples and strawberries and ate countless holiday dinners together. And now we are grown. And we are the parents of the 47 great grandchildren who flanked the walkway of my Grandpa's last journey to his final resting place. We all sang The Doxology around the gravesite one last time, with my Grandma in the middle of all our love and tears.
My Grandpa will never be forgotten.
And it leaves me to wonder if I'm leaving a legacy.
Am I doing enough? Am I leading my children? Am I loving like he did?
Today my heart is tired. Tired from the tears and from the travel to Iowa and home again. Tired of the big family gatherings, even though they filled my heart with joy and thankfulness.
So how do you go on when you're tired? How do you keep pushing forward when your heart needs to grieve a little?
I am choosing to watch a movie in bed and be gentle with myself.
I'm choosing nourishing food and walking a little slower.
I'm letting the chores pile up a little and I'm hugging my kids a little tighter.
We keep sharing memories of Grandpa and I think that's exactly what he would want us to do.
It's a new week and it's almost a new year.
Be kind to yourself.
Step back and notice what really matters: family.
That's exacty what I plan to do.
Hi, I'm Jen Hickle!