pink pancake farewell to grandma jean




It feels like I haven’t written in a while here and it’s good to be back at it today. I’ve been resting since Friday when I came down with a cold and haven’t left the house in two days! It sounds worse than it is and frankly it’s been nice to curl up in the house and dive into journaling and reading.

As many of you know already my Grandmother passed away early Sunday evening. I had been waiting to post about my last visit with her until I felt better and didn’t think she would die before I got the chance. Honestly I have mixed emotions about it as death is just a bit weird to me. I know that it is a part of life and that she wouldn’t live forever but truth be told there was part of me that didn’t imagine not having her alive.

I don’t know many people my age that have living Grandmothers and I am deeply grateful she was here for as long as she was. She was 91 when she passed. Yesterday I spoke with my brother and we tried to imagine what our lives would be line in another 60 years. It’s impossible and exciting and frightening all at the same time.

My Grandmother was an eccentric lady. She loved bright colors, alone time, and had a gift for words that kept her up night. She was a master of English words. She created challenging and fun word puzzles, the kind you can’t believe a person actually makes, don’t computers do that now? She told me on many visits that words just came to her, that she saw each letter in her mind and they kept coming and coming. She would scribble notes for her puzzles on scraps of paper in the middle of the night so that she could fall back asleep.

I think of the things that keep me up at night and wish they were letters trying to tell me something.

When my brother and I were little she would come up from Florida for the holidays and make us pink pancakes for Christmas. She loved that. We loved it. Pink pancakes and sausage links. Real maple syrup. Yum. This was a big treat and then we would spend what seemed like hours unwrapping an unbelievable amount of presents. So many presents. I remember wondering how long it took her to wrap each one.

I don’t recall when we stopped having pink pancakes for breakfast on Christmas mornings. Probably after my parents split up. In early November of last year when I got the email from Dad that Grandma had terminal cancer I called my brother. We talked about waiting to come home in late January when our schedules were open and we could spend more time at home. After a few days I got this feeling that we needed to go home earlier. Something wasn’t sitting right with me and I wanted to go home in December even if it meant he and I had to visit her separately.

We spoke again and decided we would go home for Christmas together. He brought up Grandma’s pink pancakes and said we should make them for her. It was perfect. I knew right then it was the right choice and we made our plans.

Christmas morning we made pancakes at Dad’s house. Dad got everything ready for us and even went out that morning to find something we could use for food coloring as I was having doubts about the strawberry puree Mom and I made. ┬áThere we were. In the kitchen making the funniest looking pancakes you’ve ever seen but we didn’t care. It was fun and it wasn’t about the perfect pancake. It was about thanking our Grandma for all the years she made our Christmas mornings full of joy.

As we switched off making pancakes we had a lot of laughs and I felt like her spirit was with us. We drove over to Grandmas apartment, pancakes in hand, and had our last moments with her, all of us together. Dad didn’t stay long as he wanted us to have as much time with her as she was up for.

It was hard at first. It was a year since I saw her last. She had lost weight and was obviously very sick. But there she was. All dressed up in a bold shirt, red lipstick just like I remembered. We had a wonderful visit and I think she was very touched by the pancakes we brought. During our visit I was so happy to be there and knew there wasn’t any place else I was supposed to be.

When things get hard you find out what people are really made of. When my brother and I decided to come home and see our Grandmother together it was clear to me that in our own ways we have learned how to show up for each other and for our family. We put our work and personal stuff aside so that we could spend our last Christmas with a woman that has shaped us more than we even realize. We didn’t do this for praise or because we’re “good people”. It wasn’t about us. We did this for her as a gesture of gratitude for playing a hand in the creation of our lives.

As time passes I know I will remember more and gain deeper insights into her life and my own. Today I am thankful she hung on so tight to see us and give us a chance to say goodbye.



  • topa

    I am sorry for your loss!

  • lauren

    This is such a beautiful post, thank you so much for sharing.

    i was especially touched by what you said about your brother and your relationship… i have lost many people in my family. and a few years ago, in the span of a year, two grandmothers and my mother died, and i wish my brother and i were close like this. i ended up feeling so alone in our family, and now as the only woman left, it has changed so much of our family dynamic and the roll i play in it. anyway – all this to say reading your story really got me feeling back into those emotions and i thank you for that.

    i wish you so much healing in your time of grief. and so much love,

    • ashley

      Hi Lauren,
      Thank you for taking the time to share. I am terribly sorry for all of your loss. I can imagine how isolating and lonely that feels and my heart really goes out to you. It is incredibly brave to feel back into those emotions and sit with them. That is very deep and necessary work.
      Thinking of you and wishing you healing as well.

  • Michael Clare Moore

    She was always one of my favorite people, and she will be greatly missed. Our prayers go with you and yours.

  • Melissa

    So sorry to hear about your loss. Grandmothers are so special & she sounds like a wonderful lady. And what is better than pink pancakes? Peace, love & healing thoughts to you.

    • ashley

      Thank you Melissa. You are right, Grandmothers are so special. They are these strong and wise people who have lived through more than I can even imagine. I really appreciate your thoughts.

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