There are two things which seem almost impossible to write about… Mainly because they involve events which aren’t entirely comprehendible. A loved one dying… and the birth of a new loved one.

But those two events are also the only things I’ve seen which offer more clarity than any book, situation or piece of advice has ever given me. Suddenly, nothing else matters, because the main point of everything is clear. It can’t necessarily be put into words, but it is clear.

My grandmother almost died this weekend. I came rushing home Tuesday night when I received the news she’d had a stroke. And I’ve spent the majority of this weekend in the hospital with my mother and the rest of my family.

She had an inordinate amount of visitors. She is extremely loved. The nurses and doctors commented on it several times and even told her they think the reason she is recovering so rapidly is due in large part to the amount of people surrounding her. And you should see her when she talks about her family… she literally beams.

My grandmother isn’t well known outside of her family. Her name won’t be in any stories beyond the ones our family will hand down. She didn’t “accomplish” anything beyond raising 5 kids and a marriage going on 62 years. She didn’t have a career, and in fact got married at the age of 16 so she didn’t even finish high school. She didn’t do anything too remarkable in the eyes of the world.

But when she had a stroke and found herself in the Critical Care Unit of a hospital there wasn’t a single day that her visiting area wasn’t filled with at least 2 or 3 (and more often 5-8) people at a time. She will never have to worry about her spouse or herself being alone during a moment of crisis, because there will ALWAYS be people there. She spent the first part of her life raising kids who love her for it. And then spent the remainder going to EVERYTHING her grandkids ever did or participated in (and I do mean everything). And it shows.

She didn’t worry about who she would be, or what grand purpose she should fill. She fell in love, she had kids and she genuinely and unconditionally loved them. And when they got married she genuinely and unconditionally loved their spouses. And when they had kids, she genuinely and unconditionally loved those grandkids. And when those grandkids brought home spouses she genuinely and unconditionally loved them. And that kind of love is irresistible. She is one those truly rare souls who can love a person wherever they are at, without judging them. And we in turn, loved her for it.

It makes me wonder about life and everything that is important. I know we’ve all heard it before… that family is important. But there’s more to it than that. Loving your family is important. Loving others is important. Putting them first is important. My grandmother did that. Her whole life, she loved, and loved and loved. Quietly and patiently and perhaps at times when no one really even noticed because we just took it for granted that she would always love us.

And someone who lives like that has lived a thousand times more than someone who hasn’t. Her life was full and real and rich. And I don’t think it was because she tried to make it that way. I think it is simply because she gave herself to others. To her husband, to her kids, to their spouses, to her grandkids, to her friends, to her family… She accomplished what people can’t figure out these days… A fairly healthy family, what will soon be a 62 year marriage, kids that do NOT hate her or sit around talking to their therapist about how much she screwed them up… grandkids that know who she is and visit her regularly… these are all anomalies now… but not to my grandmother. She accomplished more than I have ever seen anyone else accomplish… because her accomplishments involved people and not just things. Her accomplishments were just the product of love.