Tag Archives: Grammy

A Granddaughter’s Goodbye

Outside is gray and wind blows more of the crunchy, faded leaves from the tree of friendship. It has grown from sapling and is now tall enough to be seen outside of my second-story office window. I watch the remaining leaves cling fiercely, not ready to end their season of holding space this fall. I want them to remain there as long as possible. I do not want any more time to pass.

I remember the beginning of this week. I don’t want to forget.

Monday I went to bed with plans to visit Grammy at 10:00 Tuesday morning. The last time Steve and I saw her, she was in bed. There was life in her eyes and a smile on her lips. She recognized us, commented on Steve’s long hair (Ok, put your hat back on!), and beamed over the news of my firstborn’s pregnancy. (Another baby!)

Large tears fell from my eyes and onto her covers as I remembered our pre-Covid days at Brookdale ~ when we could walk to breakfast or lunch together using her walker, when I would push her in her wheelchair, when we could no longer visit until it was the end. We are here. It’s close to the end.

Steve opens the blinds so we can look out the window at fall colors. Birds fly to the feeder. The sky is late October gray, as the sun begins its early descent. Grief catches me off guard. I hold it in.

Ok, you can go now.

It’s a familiar goodbye, and one I am not sure is for her or for us. Which of us needs permission? I hang on a little longer, unsure if this is the last time we will be together in person. (it is) I don’t want to overstay, so I lean over the bed, hug her close, whisper goodbyes and I love yous, and exit the room with tears rolling down my face.

So now it’s bedtime Monday evening, November 9, 2020, and I wonder if Grammy will be there in the morning. Should I have gone over and stayed? Each night I wonder if it will be the one. The wait is truly the hardest part. I pray rest for her. I will go over tomorrow and stay.

I startle awake in the early morning hours, Grammy on my mind. This feeling is different than my usual insomnia. I feel a strange calm unlike any other night-time wake in this season and wonder Is this it? Is Grammy passing?

There is no urgency to get out of bed ~ only to bear witness to the moment in my spirit. O Sacred Head Now Wounded plays in my mind, every verse I have ever heard, including Be near me, Lord, when dying. . . especially that one. I hear the tune, the singers, the words. I pray it for her. If it is her time. Be near.

It is followed by Sandra McCracken’s Love Will Bring You Home. I pray again that if it is time, the passage is smooth and kind. I pray she is brought home by love.

I am so present, which is unusual for middle-of-the-night stirrings. I fall back into a restful sleep without any of the usual back-to-sleep aids like reading, journaling, or hot tea. I wake Tuesday morning to a text from Dad.

Grammy died last night. The hospice nurse pronounced her passing at 2:30am . . . Please let your siblings know.

The end of her story at age 97. A long life well-lived. Over. It is Tuesday, November 10, 2020.

I scroll in my phone to find our last picture together, taken in February before Covid shut everything down.

I feel sad and glad and weary and begin making phone calls to my people.

Smarties

They are a taste of my childhood. Memories of a bag of Smarties candy rolls in a high cupboard ~ but not too high for me to reach them ~ are vivid, as is the sugary, slightly sour taste and chalky feel on the teeth as they dissolve.

I am sure I reached up often for a roll or two or a handful and ran upstairs to my room with a book. I am sure they were on hand as treats for younger siblings learning to use the toilet or behave in public.

It is a memory of Sunday church with small children and young motherhood, though not with me as the provider. I did not want or need to use candy bribes for my children. They must learn to obey just because.

That did not stop Grammy from slipping them from her purse and handing them out to fussy little ones or as a treat for an after service hug.

It’s amazing what you can do with that dumb candy! she would say.

I knew better. I was above carrying rolls of candy in my purse or diaper bag but tolerated an old lady’s handing them out, much to the delight of my young ones. I wish I had carried the candy.

I was reminded of Smarties several weekends ago with the visit of a dear childhood friend. We had not seen each other in person since fourth grade but had connected on social media several years ago. Finally a We really need to get together in person had worked out, and she made the three hour trek to visit.

It was a wonderful time of reconnecting and catching up, of remembering things together.

Until . . .

I have a memory of you giving me a roll of Smarties candy, but you crossed out the word Smarties and wrote Dummies on it, she said, laughing.

I was mortified and felt embarrassed by this memory. I did not recall it at all, though it made total sense due to the role (no pun intended) that particular candy played in my life at the time. We were also academic rivals (as much as could be in first through fourth grades) often coming in first and second with our grades.

She assured me that it was more playful than hurtful, though I still struggled that I could not remember the incident. What else have I done that I don’t remember in another person’s life? How do others remember me?

I allowed myself permission to have been a child that did silly, immature things. I am sure it was around the time of this incident.

One of my children immediately latched onto the story and commented, Here you are saying, “Oh I was so traumatized as a child” when really you were just a bully!

That’s the thing. We all have been harmed and harmed others, either inadvertently or intentionally. My friend was incredibly gracious to frame the story with humor, but I am sure others have stories of me that are not as funny or playful.

Those people most likely lived in my home with me, but I am sure also crossed my path in classrooms or dorm rooms or work rooms.

It was a sweet time together, and I ended up being thankful for the memory and subsequent wrestling with it. It was fun to see myself as a child and to find eyes of kindness rather than shame for that young person.

If I could go back, though, these are the candies I would give her instead.

Maybe.