I've never written much about my grandparents. Just wrote a small bit here. Wanted to write a bit more.
I was 19, in college, and still living at home. I had been out one night, I think it was a weeknight, so it wasn't too late. When I came home, I noticed that my mother's car wasn't home, which was odd for 9 or 10 o'clock at night during the week. As I reached the foot of the stairs, Dad opened the front door and told me my grandmother, my mother's mother, had passed away. I was stunned. Mom, the eighth of twelve children, had left to go be with her brothers and sisters.
She was my last living grandparent. And now she was gone. I think I walked around in a daze the rest of the night, and probably the next day. I didn't want to go to school anymore. I didn't care about much of anything for a few weeks. She was 77. But it was still unexpected. She hadn't been sick. And I never got a chance to say goodbye. That's the worst.
Mamaw never learned to drive. She outlived my grandfather by almost sixteen years, but never remarried. Never even thought about even seeing anyone else. For the last several years of her life, she lived alone in a tiny two bedroom house in the country, where her mother had lived. And yet despite having no car, somehow managed to get by. The story goes that a tornado had picked the little house up and set it back down several feet from it's foundation, otherwise unharmed for the most part.
There was a small pond on someone else's property, just down the drive and across an electric fence, which shocked me at least twice. I learned to fish there, using raw bacon or bologna for bait. The pond iced over once and my cousin and I wanted to "skate" out on it, but were scared we'd fall thru. My uncle told us it was solid and that he could drive a truck out on the ice. We never chanced it though. He came in later wet from the waist down, and I was glad we hadn't.
I liked spending the night there. But I did it far too seldom. During the summertime, Mom would take my sister and I and we'd go pick up Mamaw and take her out to breakfast. Those were some of my favorite times. It seems to me that grandparents and grandchildren often just naturally form an alliance. If I was in trouble with Mom or Dad, I could always count on Mamaw to say something like "Leave the boy alone." It's sad to lose that.
When I was a junior in high school, I was dating a girl a year older than me from a nearby school. She invited me to her senior prom. This was the same girl that I used to only ask out every other weekend, because I'd skip lunch and save up my lunch money for two weeks to pay for our dates. I blogged about it once. Can't find it now. My parents seemed to be struggling at this time. And me? I was cleaning up. $3.80 an hour. ("Isn't that the new minimum wage?" "And now you know who to thank.") Mom took me to Mamaw's and made me ask her if I could borrow money to rent a tux. I am sure I thanked her. Can't remember ever paying her back.
Suddenly this feels too personal. At the funeral, I was a pallbearer. Even at 19, I felt like a kid still. I wanted to cry so bad, but the tears would never come. Not sure why. I think I was still stunned about the whole thing. As the saying goes, it hadn't hit me yet. Nowadays I visit her grave. Alone. At least once a year. Sometimes more. I've learned that the tears will come when they come. Often when I visit, I'll start talking to her. As if she were standing there. Just about life in general. How much I miss her. The wind picks up. The leaves rustle... Maybe I'm just talking to the wind. Whatever. It helps.
For several years, I would have dreams about her. As I mentioned in the other post, to this day, I still remember her phone number. When I think that all my grandparents are gone, it deeply saddens me. I know many people have suffered more losses than I. I still have my parents. My sister. All my close friends. I hope if you still have grandparents living that you will treasure them. What I'd give for one more day... I could write more. But this is enough. For now.
I can still remember so many of the things I felt standing there that night, at the foot of the stairs. I felt robbed. Of so much. I was shocked. I felt it was so unfair that I never got to say goodbye. Most of all, I felt empty.
Almost fourteen years later... nothing ever fills up that space.
"If heaven was a town it would be my town, on a summer day in 1985. When everything I wanted was out there waiting. And everyone I loved was still alive..."