Over the years, she continued her little ways of showing us that she knew and accepted us, just like she would with any of her grandkids. Birthday cards, long hugs, phone calls, and gentle smiles always made me feel not just welcomed, but part of the family.
As she grew more ill towards the very end of her life, we went to visit her a final time in the hospital. With just me and my husband in the room, she held our hands and talked to us with labored breaths. "No matter what anyone on the outside says," Grandma Helen told us, "you are wonderful boys. You are my sweet boys."
It was a blessing and her parting gift to us.
It's easy to sometimes forget the good moments in life. News of hate crimes, political loses, bullying, and continued struggles can overshadow the impact living our lives openly can have. But sometimes there are quiet little moments, a hand on the shoulder or whispered words of love and support, that remind us why we fight on. It reminds us that despite polls or numbers, those around us aren't just statistics, but people as well.
Celebrating those moments, and honoring those that accept us with open hearts and love, is just as important as calling out and combating those that oppose us. It reminds as that "no matter what anyone on the outside says", there are those that love us, no matter what their generation.