Pete's beloved mother died in September of 2006. She had deteriorated long before that, so she was never able to get to know Youngest. She hadn't had a "regular" visit with the two older kids for a number of years as her mind diminished.
My memories of her are only fond. I hear of many women who bitterly complain about their mothers-in-law. I could never be one of those. She was a wonderful lady who loved her children and their children fiercely. She was unbelievably adept with newborns, babies, toddlers and young children. I know this from experience. She was and will always be "Gran" to me. I don't know how much my older ones will retain of their interactions with Gran, but I am hopeful that, if they remember nothing else, they will remember a feeling of all-encompassing love from her.
We visited the grave site today. It is a cherry tree, planted as a sapling in December of 1980, when Pete's father died. His Uncle Bill is memorialized there as well, with his plaque facing the high-rises he once helped build. And Pete's mum is there now, too. Others will surely join at some point, although who and when has yet to be determined.
There are trees of all kinds everywhere, with flowers and angels and faeries and plaques and vases and at least one hand-made cross with the word "Gran" written on it. There are benches dedicated as well, so those of us remaining might be able to sit and commune with loved ones. As we were leaving, Youngest bid farewell. "Good-bye Gran. Good-bye Grandad," he said as he waved to the tree.
I've not visited my father's grave in a very long time. It's probably been about 15 years since I've been to Arlington National Cemetery, where his ashes were placed. Today, communing with Gran, I felt a tug, a nudge, if you will, to have my children get a chance to say hello and good-bye to my Dad, the Grandpa they never met.