Memos from the Middle

Smack-Dab in the Middle of Living

Remembering My Grandma

For a week, God has been preparing me. I knew that my grandmother was headed to glory. It’s like that with me sometimes. I can’t explain it, but sometimes during prayer or as I’m driving or even as I’m engaged in another conversation little whispers of a soon coming truth will come my way. I remember being a little girl and dreaming of Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ death. I was freaked out the next morning when I fluttered around my dad’s kitchen packing up my backpack, seeing the same lady from my dream on the morning news’ death announcement. I had never seen her before or even knew who she was. Years later, I remember waking up feeling an overwhelming sense that something was wrong with my long-distance love and future husband who had left Chicago after bringing me his computer when mine crashed at the most inopportune time. When I called him in a panic, he told me that he had just been in a major accident on the highway a few miles from his exit. He told me that my call came literally at the end of the collision. He hadn’t even had a chance to open the door to get out of the car.

This time, though, in little snatches of consciousness, God let me know that He was coming for her. I never usually tell people about these awarenesses because it sounds a little crazy, and if you talk about somebody’s death before they actually die, you just seem morbid. But the truth is, I knew. Fleeting thoughts usually go just as quickly as they come, but this time, I kept getting them all about her, so when my husband stood on the side of the bed, looking down at me with eyes that said something is wrong, I knew. I just knew. But knowing doesn’t erase the hurt.

Today, I just want to be sad and cry as I miss her. I want to lie heavily in my bed and remember what it was like to be a little girl lying in bed next to her chatting about nothing of consequence but feeling so important to her. I want to remember trying on her church hats and looking in the mirror pretending to be her with her smiling at me through the reflecting glass. I want to remember waking up early in the morning and not finding her anywhere in the house and venturing outside only to find her in bandana and cut off jeans with an ax chopping away at snakes in her yard. I want to remember walking uptown to get triple scoops of ice cream in the hot Mississippi sun. I want to remember her making homemade biscuits and peach cobbler. I want to remember her waxing her floors after moving all that heavy wood furniture by herself. I want to remember her insisting on me wearing those itchy lacy slips under my dresses for church. I want to remember her bravery after losing my grandfather and the grace with which she handled life thereafter.  I want to remember her hands, the ones that made me chicken and dumplings, the ones that scrubbed my knees, the ones that patted me softly in church, the ones that made sure my slip wasn’t showing, the ones that rubbed my back as she called me “Babydoll,” the ones that showed me how to put lotion on my face so that I wouldn’t wrinkle or sag too early. I want to remember her lessons about money and womanhood told over oatmeal and cornbread and buttermilk at her kitchen table. I want to remember the Saturday morning phone calls every single Saturday of my college and teaching days where she gave me advice and laughed with me and told me truths only a real grandmother knows. I want to remember how much she loved me and how much I loved her. I want to remember her refusing to let me off the hook for bad behavior and bad manners. I want to remember the blessing she gave when I told her I wanted to get married and how practical and sage the lessons were about love. I want to remember her joy at meeting my babies and watching them play. I want to remember that even when her mind had faded and she looked at my daughter thinking she was me, I got to see with new perspective how much she adored me. I want to remember that in her fragments of lucidity, she somehow knew I was hurting and desperately needed her advice about life, and in her way, in a way that only she could, with me lying on her bed in my nightgown and she in hers, she told me exactly what I most needed to hear: that she was always proud of me.

So today I just want to cry and miss my grandma. That’s all.

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3 thoughts on “Remembering My Grandma

  1. Anonymous on said:

    My condolences praying for you and the family.

  2. joanneord6712 on said:

    My condolences prayers going up love you

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