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Grandma's Voice - Jenna Lybbert
Flash Memoir written by Raine Sillito from the collected memories of Jenna
Welcome to the Walking with Grief series -where we connect in our shared stories of loss and transformation.
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Flash Memoir is a concise form of autobiographical writing. It's about distilling a significant memory or moment from your life into a short, impactful narrative, usually just a few sentences or paragraphs. It's like taking a vivid snapshot of your personal history and sharing it in a way that's brief but full of meaning.
This piece of flash memoir was written by me (Raine) from a short interview with Jenna about the loss of her grandmother. What is unique to this piece is that Jenna and I share the same maternal grandmother, and so some of my own memories became infused into the final piece.
I wish I had known my Grandma better. She slipped away into the fog of Alzheimer's when I was still too young to understand how it would change her. Born in Holland in 1938, she ventured to Canada in 1951, a brave young soul forging a new life across the ocean. Now, with the wisdom age behind me, I have countless questions I would ask. What was it like to step onto foreign soil at such a tender age? What did she long for from her homeland, and did she ever accept the proxy baptism we offered after her earthly journey ended?
I remember the echo of Grandma's voice meandering through her living room, words woven around a character named Tippu the mouse. She had bought my sister and I some books and read them aloud to us. The story of Tippu the mouse has faded from my memory, but her voice remains etched in my heart, a memory of warmth and security.
Almost every week, we'd head out to Grandma's house for dinner. Sometimes we'd congregate around the family organ. Grandpa's fingers would dance across the keys, while Grandma's voice soared in hymns of devotion. In those moments, you could feel the entire house hush, little cousins included, as we listened to the sweet music.
It's a profound beauty in realizing that she was a living, breathing soul—a complex individual, much like myself—woven into the fabric of my lineage, an essential thread in the tapestry of my life.
Then came the wrenching days when Alzheimer's began to lock her away in her own mind. I longed to hear her speak, to be read to once more. She would sit on the sofa in the living room, staring into space in silence. One day, I offered her a bowl of chips, not sure if she would accept them. But she did, taking the bowl from me without a word. We sat together, devouring chips in silence. Though words eluded her, happiness radiated from my little heart, and I hoped fervently that she found joy in that shared moment.
As I carry her memory with me, I find comfort in the knowledge that one day, our paths will cross again and we’ll be able to share stories and songs together once more.
Shared with the permission of Jenna Lybbert.
The stories and content shared in this series are authored by individuals who have generously chosen to share their lived experiences with grief. All writings and narratives published in this series are the sole expressions and perspectives of the respective authors.
I encourage readers to practice self-compassion and self-care when engaging with the content, recognizing that some narratives may evoke strong emotions. Discretion is advised, and readers are responsible for their emotional well-being while consuming the stories.
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