One of Grandma’s greatest talents, besides feeding us all full of cheesy, fried, Southern food, and knowing the tricks to every game on The Price is Right, was sewing. All through our growing up years, she would make these beautiful dresses for Christina and Martha and I. Always matching, which, as the youngest, I loved. Them? Not so much—they were way too cool. But Grandma could take these scraps of fabric that looked like nothing to the rest of the world—and she could see their potential. The dresses and quilts and doll clothes that they could be. She was an artist.
Maybe it was that talent that allowed her to see the potential in all of us, too. She believed that we could do anything (except make mistakes—her grandchildren could do anything but make mistakes) and in believing that, she made us believe it, too.
Grandma’s hands that could take a scrap of fabric and turn it into the perfect Scarlett O’Hara barbecue dress could take this unruly, loud, bumbling little tomboy and smooth out the edges and help form something that could be somewhat mistaken for a lady. (If you squint your eyes and tilt your head a little to the left.)
The day before she passed, I wrote a blog about her, and even now I can think of no better way to describe her.
Death is a strange thing. The strangest thing that we can try to understand as humans, I think. Our bodies are wired to survive at all costs, so when they eventually fail us, our minds struggle to wrap around that. We say we lost someone, but to be perfectly honest, Grandma isn’t lost. I know exactly where Grandma is. On Tuesday morning she walked with Jesus like she always wanted, and she held her baby boy for the first time in 21 years. And she kissed her sweetheart.
If anything, now I’m the one that’s lost.
Without my cell phone constantly ringing for her to “tell me just one thing” or just to hear my voice. Without my trips to the nursing home, and her cravings for Taco Bell.
When she lost her only child, my dad, I sat in Grandma’s lap during the funeral and slept through it all. She said holding me is what helped her get through the day, so the Lord must have planned it. That may have been where this special whatever we had began. What she doesn’t know is that her holding me is what got me through the last 26 years.
I just want to finish with a poem I wrote when Grandma was staying with me a couple of months ago.
It Is Time
She is pancake mix and chocolate chip cookies and pink lemonade.
She is buttercups flowers and knockout roses and yard sales on Saturday mornings.
She is evening walks and holding hands.
She is the nighttime reader who always said yes to “just one more.”
She’s seen the worst the world can offer, and remained good.
She’s the gift to my childhood–flesh of her flesh.
I knew this was coming.
I thought I was ready.
But I am the little girl again, not wanting to go home.
Please, please let me stay!
Please, please let her stay.
She has gone.
“It is time.”
And I am so very different.
How very much I loved her.
How blessed to have her in my world.
How blessed to have lived in her’s.
This is what I wrote for Grandma’s funeral–which was a lifetime ago and also only a second.
I cried today.
My first real ‘my heart hurts’ cry since she died.
Between all the funeral preparations and the estate probating and thousands of calls to life insurance, health insurance, social security, blah blah blah, I think I stayed just busy enough.
But I cried today.
Because I think I could search the whole world over, back through all of history, and never find someone who understood me like she did.
Thank you all for your kind words since last Tuesday. Thank you for your hugs and your thoughts and especially your prayers. And thank you for calling up your grandparents just to say hello.
Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.