What follows is something that I started writing 8 years ago. I had been married for 7 months to the day, and my wife and I were out shopping for Desjhauna, who turned 5 that day and Xenia, who was 4 weeks old at that point. (Stop doing the math!!!) I had called and spoken to Grandma that morning and our conversation had not gone well. She was very short with me, almost to the point of rudeness, which was so unlike her. After getting off the phone, I told myself that maybe she just didn't feel well because- she NEVER talked to me like that- and I'd just call her later and check on her. My father called me a few hours later to tell me that she was gone. I never got to make that call. I never got to say good-bye, but most times nobody does, do they?
Anyhoo, we made the drive down from Springfield, MA in a blur. The drive back was a horror story in it's own right, but that's another blog. I remember seeing cousins that I hadn't seen in years. I remember speaking at the service, but not what I said. I remember that it was cold and wet. But mostly what I remember is the smell of Noxzema from a late night in July of 1978 and I remember putting off a phonecall that, as it turns out, I'd never get to make.
What follows is something that I started writing on the night she died. I suppose it was gonna be what I wanted to say at her funeral, but I never finished it. In all honesty, I haven't looked at it since sometime around February 20, 2004. I present it here, in it's raw unfinishedness, only because it rings so true to me after this space of years and to honor her on this 8th anniversary of her death.
And because I never made that phonecall, never apologized for whatever I did that upset her.
And because we never really get to say goodbye...
I am a different man than I was a week ago. Not to say that I am better or worse, just different. You see my Grandmother died today and I don’t know where home is anymore. I only now understand that even in the home that I share with my wife and most of our children, she was such an important part. What she taught me made my home, HOME and made the home she raised me in Heaven. I remember so many days, so many nights feeling safe, feeling RIGHT because she made it possible for me to. I am a father now, a husband and as much of a man as I know how to be, I have my own life, my own family, my own house and all the things in it and I know that I have been blessed. But I don’t know where home is anymore, not with her gone.
See, I still remember her first words to me and my big brother that night in July 1978 that we first met, “Do ya’ll want something to eat?” she asked. Now if you knew her, especially in the days before she started losing the energy that was so much a part of her, you understand what I mean. That was her. It was late that night I remember, I was only 4 going on 5, and the only people around that I knew were my Dad and my brother. But this sweet Lady, who seemed like a giant back then, and that should tell you how long ago that was, made me feel safe. Made me feel comfortable, you know? As far as Erik and I knew then, we were going to be visiting her for two weeks and I already felt at home after five minutes. I still felt at home when I left for the first time 13 years later.
My Grandma was the sweetest little mean old lady you ever wanted to meet. She had a smile that would warm your heart. And for me, my brother and sister and various cousins, she had a strap that would burn your butt. She was a great Grandmother, loving each of us in the different ways that we never knew we needed.