Thursday, September 21, 2006

touchstone gone

My Gram died on Tuesday morning and even though she was 88 years old, it was completely unexpected and I catch myself and my family suddenly bursting into tears like we've just found out for the first time all over again.

I tell myself all the things I'm supposed to say: "she had a good life" - yes, she did, but it doesn't feel like she was done to us; "she didn't suffer" - that's true, but we are suffering in our grief over missing her; "she lived a good long life" - again, true. But as my sister said yesterday - "not long enough for us."

My Gram was the perfect grandparent to older kids and adults. I watched her delight in observing my kids and my cousin's kids (she had 5 great grandchildren) and as much as we knew she loved us as children, it didn't feel like she "got us" until we were older. You see, she like to chat. She loved to hear about our lives and our jobs and our partners jobs and families and their in-laws and the neighbors friends she met years ago. She keep a list in the front of her address book of all the birthdays in her family. It's a long list. She came from a Nebraska farm family of 7 kids and my grandpa was one of 12. Aside from my grandparents, they all stayed in Nebraska and proceeded to have lots of kids and those kids had kids, etc. She had over 100 nieces and nephews and she knew them all. When my dad and aunt were kids living in San Francisco they spent every summer with this extended family on the farm(s). I think this was partially because my grandparents wanted their city family to be connected to their roots, but it was also because my Gram was a working mom long before that was common. She was a registered nurse and summer vacations most likely presented a babysitting problem, so a nice long trip to Nebraska was lots of things, but practical must have been right up there.

I'm so sad over losing her that it physically hurts. This is most likely a painful side effect of losing a grandparent and a friend. This woman knew me and loved me and never said a harsh or critical word to me. She was easy and oh boy, easy is not a term used to describe many aspects of my family. Loving and loyal, yes. Easy? not so much.

I didn't get to say goodbye. I saw her two weeks ago tomorrow and we had lunch and chatted. I think I talked to her on the phone at least once in the last two weeks. I know I didn't call her on my Dad's birthday to wish her "happy 63 years later" and that fact alone makes me want to scream. I'd intended to, the weekend just slipped away and then she was gone. She died in the hospital on the morning of the day we'd been told she was going to go home. Just a little blip. Perfectly normal given someone of her age with mild or early heart issues. I'm guessing now that there is no such thing as a mild heart issue and am now trying to focus of the sum of our relationship, not the little bits I wish I could have rearranged in the end.

A friend of mine gave the eulogy at her grandfathers funeral a few years ago and made of point of saying that his family would be his legacy. I do believe she will continue to be the tether that links us together. She will remain alive in us. In the way we talk, laugh, the way we cut flowers from our backyards and bring them inside to put on the kitchen table. Every time one of us counts our Christmas cards and compares the outgoing vs. incoming totals, every time we tell a story that goes on just a little too long, every time we delight in our children's children's children, and every time we write someone a little note and actually place a stamp on it and put it out for the postal carrier to take away into the world, she will be alive in us and we will be reminded of just how much she loved us and how much we loved her.

4 Comments:

Blogger CityMama said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. hugs to you.

2:01 PM  
Blogger kirsty said...

No matter how many years we share with our loved ones it's never enough! My grandparents were both over 90 and it still stung badly to lose them. Love to you all, and thanks to God for a loving Gram.

3:09 PM  
Blogger L. said...

I am so, so, so sorry.

I can empathize -- my own grandmother died suddenly, almost 10 years ago, and I still get teary-eyed if I let myself think about her too much. I stll haven`t lost the feeling of just wanting to talk to her one...more...time...

(Concidentally, my post yesteday is about something I did in my grandmother`s memory, and how much she meant to me.)

I think your sister`s comeback rngs so true: she had a long life, but "not long enough for us."

7:15 AM  
Blogger Pixie said...

Myabe one day you'll be the
Gran she was. She taught you a lot...enjoy the memories.

12:55 AM  

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