I'm not sure where to start. I just know that for me writing always helps in time where I feel helpless. And never have I felt more helpless than today when I received a call from my mom to tell me her mom had passed away. Even though I was minutes away from a 2nd date I talked to my mom briefly, while driving... and accidentally circling the airport because the directions to where I was going were on the phone and I got off course...
I wasn't sure what to do. Where to be. But I knew very quickly I was going to go on my date. Almost like I could feel my grandmother who often wished that no one make a fuss for her, declaring that I should. I felt like she would have been mad at me if I'd have cancelled and come home to write and cry without doing what I had planned. Because I went on the date and still came home to do those things anyway. Side note: Hats off to my date, Lindsay, for being cool about it despite that when I got there and she asked "how are you" that rather than the often heard "good" I went blurted out, "My grandmother just died." She offered to reschedule and I insisted that it was ok and despite that start we had a nice evening. Which I feel like really capped off why I should have stayed on course.
Now if I go much further without mentioning that for along time as a kid I was babysat by my grandmother a lot, I'm doing a disservice to the remembering of my grandmother. I'd be at her house and we'd play games and do puzzles. She'd watch Young and the Restless and The Bold and Beautiful and I was first exposed to things that maybe I shouldn't have been when looking up from my matchbox cars and stuffed animals. Daytime TV could get racy after The Price is RIght.... The first time I was handed a Fudge Round, a Star Crunch, or and Oatmeal Creme Pie from Little Debbie... it was in her kitchen... and I've had a few more since. She was always ready to get me something to eat or a snack. She taught me that sometimes being a little stinker was funny and would exclaim "Fa-Fa" if anyone was fibbing or telling a joke.
My grandparents house on Pennington Dr. in Burlington was where that part of my family gathered. It was where my Mom grew up with her older brother and sister. It was the site of so many 4th of July back yard gatherings where I sipped my first beer courtesy of my Uncle Roger. (It was a Budweiser in a can and it was gross!) It was where I played with my cousins and we fought for backyard game supremacy before things got dark and a backyard fireworks display would begin. All the holidays would feature a stop there, and for a time it was one of two stops that day when my Dad's side of the family was still in WInooski. When my grandparents sold the house and moved south to join the St. Johnsbury clan that moved down to Roanoke, Virginia it changed... as life does.
It just occurred to me that I have no more living grandparents and it makes me a whole different kind of sad. But I'm also super grateful to have been, in part, raised by all of them in some way.
Through the years and the distances I fell more out of touch than I should have, but I'm not here to have a self-pity party for how little I saw or talked with my grandmother. Im here to celebrate her life and meaning for me. Often a call to her would be wrapped up in under 5 minutes, which would feature the popular topics such as the weather, how my job was going, and if it's safe where I live. Often times I'd try to stretch the weather part out because I knew she may not like the answer to those other two.
DISCLAIMER: If you are my mother. There is a 99% chance you have already cried while reading this... and I'm being conservative at 99%. If you read these final paragraphs it will be up to 100%... as in a guaranteed, sure thing... so grab a tissue box. And yes. I included a paragraph just for you, and no, I'm not at all sorry about it. I know you too, don't like a fuss but If it made you pause a second and smile or more importantly brace for the coming impact...it was worth it. I love you.
When my grandfather passed away some years back my heart shattered on my grandmother's behalf. The two of them together were such a calming and welcome effect on all who were in their presence. A statement I KNOW without a shadow of a doubt all of my cousins would backup, especially when they would attend our various sporting events throughout Vermont and beyond. I was recently asked to fill out what was the best advice was I had ever received. I remember it like it was yesterday...
I was coming off the field behind Colchester High School from a Prep League game... I was about 13. I had a rough game at the plate and didn't play well and my grandfather, who was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals mind you... said to me, not baseball advice... but life advice... "Relax... work hard and good things will come." Little did I know how much those words would echo through my head for the rest of my life and how it applied to much more than sports. Without missing a beat my grandmother backed him up "You did your best Pee-too."
Sorry... I've never had to write "pee-too" that's what my grandmother always used to call me. Not sure if that was the spelling she was thinking of, but nonetheless just know that physically writing it started a new wave of tears for its writer. I think about that nickname every-time I play a video game and it asks if I want to be P1 or P2... I'll always be P2
Today my grandparents were reunited.... And somehow a new calming affect has come over me. As I hope it will the rest of my family in this difficult time of loss. And I know that now, myself and all of our family down to the new generation of their great-grandkids will have some new fans.... and win, lose, or draw they are there... side-by-side again in lawn chairs watching us all..