And so we begin the difficult process of trying to figure out how to go about living on this Earth without this lady that we loved so much. I have written about her before, about how I grew up knowing that she was one of best friends, how she was my secret keeper, how close we were and through out my entire life, that never changed. How many people can say that about a Grandmother? I had two Grandmothers alive and well during my childhood and they were as different from each other in their care and attitudes for me as night is from day, so I know a little of what I speak. I know that it is rare to find a Grandmother who is so loving and caring and willing to love you body and soul, year after year through all of your mistakes and changes.
Growing up, she lived right next door or just three doors down. I could always get to her. As I was older she lived for vast swaths of time right in my parent's home so she was just an intrinsic part of what I knew as "home". I can only recall one time in my whole life when she raised her voice to me and I can tell you this; I really deserved it. I had been misbehaving all day, intentionally and to drastic levels and the snapping point was when I his in a closet with my cousin Frankie and we broke open a container of Cottage Cheese and ate the whole thing with our bare hands, hands that were covered in filth and God only knows what from the yard we had been playing in. Then we had the crazy notion we were going to flounce out of the closet and show Grandma and my mom what we had done in a bratty fashion. That went over like a lead ballon. Other than that time, she usually guided me with a gentle voice and a soft touch or a word of wisdom placed at just the right time.
She taught me many things in life. She taught me that cooking is the best way to show people that you love them, that pink is one of the best colors around, that a woman must never have rough elbows, that you must always out lotion on your hands to keep them soft, that a cast iron skillet is the best thing to cook on, that buttered crackers are high cuisine, and that it's always okay to laugh at yourself. She also taught me to be kind and to love God. She taught me to forgive. She taught me that life can be hard but it doesn't have to harden you.
I was talking with my friend Teri earlier this week, she is one of my friends who is making sure to call and text to see if I'm okay and making it through this first week. (Jodi is another)And we were talking about how, if there are people out there who aren't close with their Grandparents there is just no way they could comprehend the amount of grief and suffering a Grandchild can feel at the loss of a beloved Grandma of Grandpa. I have worked as a nurse for a decade and witnessed many people shuffle off this mortal coil, it wasn't her actual death that has me bereaved. It is the absence of her presence in my days and all my days after that. I am not sure how to reconcile my heart to the idea that she is gone.
I am very lucky in that, over the years I have been able to maintain my relationship with her. I am lucky that no one has ever tried to come between us. I am lucky that in her last days I was able to be there and I was able to help care for her. I feel incredibly privileged that my training as a nurse paid off and helped me ease some of her pain and suffering. She smiled at her loved ones up until her last moments. How many people do you know that you can say that about? That they will be or were smiling and laughing with loved ones and passing out love like it was a two for one special? But that is who she was. She never stopped loving or caring, not for a second for her entire life. That last week at my mom's house was busy and tiring and very surreal. I really did not have time to process much until I came back home. Then my grief settled in. Like a two ton stone sitting on my chest. The sadness comes in waves and washes over me. The dis-belief. The frustration. But then I remember her smile. Her sweet voice. All of the love we shared and I can breathe a bit easier for a little while.
So I say that she was my Grandma but there needs to be a new word invented for what she actually was to me. A bigger word, stuffed full of more love and meaning and friendship. She was practically my everything. I loved her so. One morning before she got very, very sick I was able to sit quietly talking with her over breakfast and tell her that I loved her and that she had been the best friend and Grandma that I could have ever hoped for. And we looked at each other and we smiled and we held hands. That was about the last private moment we had together. It was a great one. I loved you Imogene. You were my best Grandma.