I didn't want to write this post but I find I can't write anything else without acknowledging the terrible gut wrenching loss of my beloved grandmother this week. I didn't expect to lose her. I know; that's a ridiculous statement. She's been frail for years. She was more than 50 years older than I am and I'm no longer any spring chicken myself. So the fact that I am stunned that she is gone is completely irrational. I know that. And yet... And yet...
I have been obsessively looking around the internet for poems to help ease the grief. Because words help heal, right? Only they don't. She's gone and I don't want her to be a ship sailing out of sight, or a rose growing on the other side of the wall, or any number of lovely nature images. I do not want to miss her and let her go. I just want her to be here, no matter how selfish that is. She's in a better place. But I don't care. I just want her here. Not there. Here.
These are things I know: I was very lucky to have my grandmother in my life for so long; and my children were lucky too, to know their great grandmother so well. Of course, she had already lived a lifetime before we came along and we didn't know that person. I didn't know her as a child, a young woman, or a new mother. I only knew her as my grandmother, the presence of pure, unconditional love.
She was the one who sat and fed the goldfish in the pond with me. She was the one who brushed dead leaves away from a tree trunk in the woods to show me the purple of new spring violets. With my grandfather, she was the one who taught me to swim out in front of the cottage. She was the one who showed me the hidden space beneath the branches of the towering stand of pines in the side yard that was perfect for a child and her imagination. She gave big hugs that often hurt because she'd forget that her glasses were on a chain around her neck and they'd inevitably poke you in the chest. Actually, she lost her glasses all the time, finding them perched on top of her head or on that chain but dangling down her back instead of her front. She made tapioca pudding for us. I love tapioca pudding. Her macaroni and cheese casserole can't be beat. She loved chocolate. And peanut butter. And she was the first person to teach me to eat peanut butter on a spoon straight from the jar. She sometimes left things so long in her fridge that they were fuzzy and unrecognizable when they were finally pulled out. She read a lot. She picked books off of her own shelves for me to read and took me to the library, encouraging my habit. She loved dogs, especially the one she permanently borrowed from my parents. She fed birds and tried to outwit squirrels. She hugged teddy bears. She loved tiny, decorative, little trinket boxes. She cherished my children. She danced with my oldest son in his Johnny-Jump-Up. She let my stand-offish child, the one who inherited her curls, warm up to her great-grandmother on her own terms. She was thrilled when this same child did what I did as a baby in her arms, giggling as she tugged on her great-grandmother's curls. She read the same book over and over and over again to my youngest, never tiring of it and always looking at him with a special sparkle in her eye. She was incredibly caring, working for decades as a hospital volunteer. She was a member of the Women's Power Squadron and could strip down an engine and drive a boat. She built stone walls and transplanted snow on the mountain and wore great straw hats. She personified grace and loyalty and love. She was beautiful inside and out. If I wrote for a hundred years, I could never capture everything that she was and I am, without the shadow of a doubt, the poorer for her loss.
For a couple of years when I was small, we lived near to my grandparents and on weekends we would hike nature trails as a family with my grandmother sometimes joining us. One of those years we lived close, when I couldn't have been any older than 9, I had a school assignment that must have been something like "What I Did on My Summer Vacation" and I wrote about our hiking. The final line told the reader that all of us had hiked the whole trail, "even my old grandma." I'm so very grateful that "my old grandma" had so many more years after that with me, years in which to truly grow old. And although I know that hiking with me was decades in her past and that she's now reunited with my grandfather and her parents and all those who went before her and who loved her long before I did, I would give anything for one more hike, one more hug, one more word with my old grandma.
I will love and miss you forever, Eny.