Saying Good-bye From 3,000 Miles

“There’s my handsome little devil!” That’s probably what I will remember most of my grandmother. This morning I was awoken with the news that was mostly anticipated, that my grandmother had reached the end of her road. I’ve never had anyone close to me in my family die before. My grandfather passed away when I was a baby, but since then, my family has always been there. I could always count on seeing my grandparents around the holidays, and I could always count on being called my grandmother’s “handsome little devil.”

This is one of the harder parts of living so far away from family. I’m not able to be there when i feel I should be. Sometimes it almost feels like a TV show. You feel like you really know the characters, but you aren’t actually there. You watch things happen from a distance.

I am thankful for the memories of grandmother that I carry with me. I am thankful for the last time that I got to see her after Christmas this past year. I’m thankful that I don’t have to have the final picture be one of her in the last few weeks. The closing picture, instead, is one of her showing off her new found flexibility and touching her toes, which I stopped doing long ago. I can instead remember her sitting on the couch at my sister’s house, telling us what a sight it was to watch my father, wife, and mother work on a puzzle while she kept warm by the fire.

The thoughts that stick out the most in childhood are numerous. It was always a highlite of the year when they would bring their tractor trailor down to our house and we’d get to ride in it. I knew that they would always have something for us and remember running to hug her while she said hi to her “handsome little devil.”

I would stay at their house after summer camp was over, since it was too far to drive home that day. I would stay in the loft, running up and down the circle stairs. She’d make sure she’d spoil me with things to eat. I would sit and spin and spin and spin in her orange chair that was right out of the 70’s. I would fake bartend at the bar in her living room, and when i wasn’t etertaining in that way, I would jump on the organ and pound out some melodies.

She would take me outside and we’d play croquet or feed the birds on the porch. She always forced more food on you than you could possibly eat, and had what seemed like millions of jars filled with canned vegetables in the basement.

As the years passed, I would only see her around the holidays, and it seemed that each year that passed, she was a little more gone than the last. Of course she wasn’t supposed to live this long, but she was never the type to let doctors tell her how to live, or how long. Each year she would come down to our house, I would get a hug. And over the years she seemed to shrink in my arms, but I still felt like the small grandchild wrapped in her arms.

It’s funny how you grow up and you get to know people better and your childish views of who people are, are shattered by reality. And even though my grandmother made all kinds of mistakes and had her share of failures, I still love her. She was my grandmother who delighted in seeing me. She was my grandmother and I was her handsome little devil.

The Family

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This entry was posted in life.

2 comments on “Saying Good-bye From 3,000 Miles

  1. beth says:

    Nice tribute Tim. I guess it will take a while to sink in. Death is so abstract until you’re dealing with it and realize its permanence. It would have probably helped you to say goodbye if you saw her at the nursing home. Even though her body was with us, her mind would come and go. Apparently, the last time Nehemiah and I went to visit her was her last good day, and even then she only realized who we were for a small part of the time. Sometimes she thought I was one of her three daughters (she only had one), she more frequently called me Debbie, and the last day she thought I owned the “house” that she was living in and then would suddenly apologize that she didn’t know who I was- all within about 20 minutes. The mental games her mind was playing on her left her exhausted and she would often fall asleep while I was talking to her. Christmas was great. I’m glad we did that, it was the last time she acted like herself and she looked great. Probably the hardest thing to see was her and Papa snuggling on the couch realizing it would be the last Christmas with her, and I think she knew it was her last Christmas with us. She was a wonderful grandmother to us.

    I was reminiscing last night with my housemate about Grammy, the house, yappy Rusty, and the bar…. oh ya, and her “pet” Racoon!

  2. BethsMomToo says:

    Nice tribute, Tim. You’re right, she did always call you her “handsome little devil”. I never paid attention to that before! I copied off your blog and Beth’s comment and gave it to Papa to read. He appreciated it.

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