Wednesday, August 15, 2012

When I am down and oh, my soul, so weary...

Do you feel that loving hand on your shoulder and knowing that person is no longer taking steps on this Earth?

Have a dream late on a Saturday night/Early Sunday morning and you wake up aching to talk to that person one more time?

I'm surrounded by needs, wants, and gotta have's every single day, but every once in awhile during these days - these dog days of Summer - I feel something bigger than me. 

My grandma has been gone eight years tomorrow.

(I imagine she has a hand in this entry, these words, from where she's sitting with her sisters and brother in Heaven and watching)

I remember those days quite vividly.

She'd had a 'spell' and gone to the ER.  Tara and I were visiting the Big City to go school shopping.  Stopping into the ER, we checked on her, and helped her pick out pictures for her room at the nursing home of Sadie that had been taken recently.

I kissed her three times on the forehead (don't ask me about three's...I have a thing) and told her to be good.

I couldn't sleep that night practically at all.  I woke up around five that morning (it was a Monday) and couldn't go back to sleep.  I was thinking of calling in sick that day for some reason if nothing more than a mental health day.

My grandpa called around seven to say that grandma had passed away at 5:15 that morning.

I don't remember what I thought in that moment other than I was changing Sadie's diaper and that I just said okay, okay, and told him I'd be down in a little bit.

The next few days were an absolute blur.  You all know how that goes, right?  You lose someone you love, someone who has defined your very being, and you crumble or shut down for a bit, right?

I never thought I'd be able to survive losing her.

She drove me crazy on a daily basis.  I loved arguing with her for the sheer enjoyment of revving her engine.  It drove me nuts when she whistled under her breath and didn't know she was doing it.  I loved her homemade noodles.  I loved her writing.  That woman could get to the heart of something faster than anyone I'd ever met and succinctly.

She also told me once that I was one of the strongest people she had ever met.

Coming from her, that meant a lot.

She grew up during the Depression where nothing was to be had ever.  She graduated from high-school.  She married my grandpa and had four children and fought for my Aunt Mary (who was born with PKU and wasn't diagnosed for some time after that) tooth and nail to have a good life.  She loved antiques.

She said 'Toodle' when you were leaving the house.

I don't think I've heard that word in years and I miss it.

I remember sitting there at the funeral with my mom on one side of grandpa and me on the other.  I was doing so well.  I had marched through the whole of the visitation and people's hands and their words about her.  I had done it without falling apart.

Until that song.

I had heard it on Oprah's birthday special or something and of course it made me think of my grandparents.  Of course it did.

The lilting beginning of the violin and then Josh Groban's angelic voice sang.

At that moment, it was almost too much.

I found out later that my Uncle Tom had heard that song on his way up to the hospital.  It made him think of her. 

Kenny, bless his heart, was sitting with the other pall bearers and he said he looked over at me during that moment.  I was sitting with my head facing the ceiling, bottom lip tucked in and chin wobbling.

I can't hardly ever hear that song these days without switching the station, fast-forwarding though, because it's almost too much.

That song brings it all back.

She didn't die too young, I don't think.  But when you lose someone you loved, who you respected and looked up to, it just plain old-fashioned sucks.

And standing by her casket before they closed the lid and wheeled her away from me for the last time was almost more than I could do, too.

I stood there with my mom in front of me and Kenny behind me.  I put a picture of my mom and me - a picture from that July, from my birthday, our first one together again in almost twenty years - in there with her.

I said goodbye.

But when I think of her, when I try to drum up an image of her, this is what I come up with: I see her standing in her garden with a dishtowel on her head in the morning summer sunlight weeding with a hand over her eyes and a hand on her hip.

She loved garnets (her birthstone).

She wrote in her journals almost every day that I knew her.

I could fill a book with what I know about my grandma and my life with her or her life with me.  Either or.

The thing of it is, I miss her strength some days.

I miss that unwavering pillar that she was in my life.  And when I do, I usually pull myself up by those proverbial bootstraps and carry on.  But I miss her voice and her laugh - God, could that woman laugh.  She had a great laugh.

She collected baseball cards that one summer.

She had a shelf dedicated to the poem "When I am an Old Woman, I shall wear purple and red..".

She loved all of us.

And once upon a time, she sat at a kitchen table with her foot propped on a chair reading thumbing through a seed catalog with a cup of coffee at her elbow and a smoke in the ashtray.

And I loved her.

And today, right now today, I miss her.  


  1. <3 Missing and longing for loved ones no longer here I am sure is the hardest <3 She helped raise a FABULOUS woman in you, though and you must remember she is looking down on you each and every second of every day!

    1. Thanks, pal, thanks. I sat here listening to that song this morning and it always hits me like a ton of bricks...this time of year. And yup, there are days when I hope she is looking down and watching out for my babies. My kids have some excellent angels on their side. <3!!!!!