June 6, 2014
On that day, I was at a meeting at the church when my mother called me to come, as soon as I could get there. When I arrived, she was putting clothes in the washing machine, the most routine of tasks. But as I parked and came into the carport, she turned and looked at me with the most empty, horrifying look on her face. What happened, I asked. Mother died, she wailed, about an hour ago. It was sudden. It was totally unexpected. After all, she had just mowed her grass (with a push mower) the day before at the active “young” age of 79.
My life, along with most of my family’s lives, nearly stopped for almost a year. Oh, we went through the motions of living, but it was hollow. That’s the nature of grieving. Then today, some thirty-plus years later, I still shed a few tears as I remembered her birthday.
My grandma was the first person I really remember telling me about God. She loved God so. And I know she prayed for me, the unchurched youngster and teenager I was. She rejoiced when I finally joined a church, even though it wasn’t of her denomination (they do read the Bible, she asked me, don’t they?!). We had some wonderful conversations about faith in my early years.
Grandma lived about an hour away. No matter when I went, she always seemed glad to see me. In the summers, after I became a teen, I would get to spend a week with her. Those were times I will never forget. Almost everyday we went somewhere: the zoo; the local grocery store (I still love the Piggly Wiggly because she made it such an adventure); shopping; visiting relatives; the park. And there was almost always an ice cream treat included in the day. She kept us busy and I’m sure I wore her out. But she never, ever complained or seemed ready for me to leave.
And we would laugh. At the silliest things. And spend hours swinging on the front porch, watching the traffic go by on the way to and from the beach (she lived on what used to be the main road to the coast). We worked in the garden, cooked and baked, and every afternoon, we each had a “pony” Coca-Cola. Just one a day.
Oh, and I cannot forget the train. Grandma’s house was so cool because the track was literally in her backyard. As soon as I heard the whistle, twice a day with punctual regularity, I would run through the house, down the back steps, and into the yard to wave and hope the conductor would blow the whistle for me. I never got too old for that adventure. And she would just laugh at my enthusiasm.
The memories are as clear as if they were yesterday. My love for her as deep as ever. My missing her as bittersweet. Happy Birthday, Grandma! I love you!