At the socially distant wedding of my younger cousin on Sunday, there was a part of the Mass where the names of loved ones who have died were read aloud and prayed for in a special way. Hearing the name of my grandfather, Frank Brigante Sr. and my grandmother, Eleanor Brigante, brought tears to my eyes. The Ave Maria played shortly after, which didn't help the crying.
My grandfather, "Grandy", died in 1999 and my Grandma in 2015. Hearing their names said aloud at this occasion was so striking. It made me think how names are so special and hold so much in them- to hear the name of my Grandy who's been gone for over 20 years- it just brought him right back in my memory so clearly.
The other night, my daughter Megan was rather emotional at bedtime. One of the things that was making her teary was she never got to meet Grandy. Megan is extremely close with my mom, Grandy's daughter. I told Megan that in a way, she has gotten to know Grandy because Naya (what Megan calls my mom) is so much like him. She has his endless patience and kindness. I told her that Grandy and GG (my Grandma) are part of Naya and they live on through her. Maybe hard for a 7 year old (or a 41 year old) to fully understand, but I think true.
During the wedding toasts, all the kind things were said about my cousin. He's younger than me and we haven't stayed that close through the years, but hearing people describe him as selfless, kind, and loving made me feel so proud. It made me think of the legacy my grandparents began when they got married and started a family. How all of us are connected through them and how they would be so proud of us.
My grandparents' memory is a blessing. They always showed up. They were full of fun and laughter. They created traditions for us and were a part of all my biggest moments through my childhood and teenage years. I was lucky to have my grandmother through my own wedding and both of my children being born. When I think of them, I feel like I'm being embraced. It's a soft blanket, cozy feeling.
And so I go forward and live in a way that might inspire someone, someday to remember me as a blessing too.
Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski