My Grandmom was 91-years-old when she passed away late Tuesday night. A few months ago, I visited her during her first trip to the hospital and she spent most of the time worried about people seeing her “all disheveled in a bathrobe” or talking about how the doctor told her she couldn’t eat cheese or drink wine anymore and she “just wasn’t sure what the point of living was, then.”
Grandmom had always been spunky yet refined, as if raising 4 stubborn boys hadn’t ruffled her feathers at all. She had never worn tennis shoes or a sweatshirt in her whole life and even on Saturday–the last day I saw her and talked to her– she was fully dressed in loafers, slacks, and a floral cardigan.
She was a beauty in her younger years and even on into old age, though my favorite thing about her was her hands; they were always so soft and warm and bejeweled and I was fascinated by them.
I always wondered about the hands that had raised my father and his brothers; the hands that had lived and worked inside many houses across many states over many years. A few years ago she gave me this hutch, which is probably my favorite earthly possession and now sits in my dining room. She told me how she and my Grandpa tried to move the hutch into one of their first apartments together in New York, but the stairway was too narrow. Grandpa sawed off the top part and reattached it later, my Grandmom using her hands to later fill it with blue and white china (her favorite). The saw-marks are still visible on the sides and the glue where they pieced it back together.
Of course, I am sad. Going to school at UGA and living a short drive down 85 to Atlanta these last 8 years has afforded me a lot of time with her. She was always so sassy and would tell me things like when I needed to get a haircut, but she was also kind and a wonderful painter and I admired her This Is Just Who I Am attitude. She loved her family fiercely and despite the fact that she would ask too much about my non-existent dating life… I always felt better to be around her.
Death is a strange thing, I’ll say that. In many ways, her passing was a relief as there’s no more suffering. She had lived 90 good and healthy years, even despite battling breast cancer in the 70s and as someone who hated vegetables. In selfish ways, I am sad and mourning. I’d always wanted her to see me get married; her little tom boy finally settling down. Just last night I had a glass (or 3) of red wine (with friends) and thought about how much she loved to sit and talk and drink wine and eat cheese– also 3 of my favorite things so I will always think of her.
On her last good day, I got to see her along with my Dad. As we sat and talked, I noticed my Grandpa’s Bible from the 40s sitting on the table next to us. I flipped through the pages and knew deep down that this was probably the last time I would see her. I held her warm, soft hands and prayed that God would take care of her… for her well-being and for my heart and for my Dad’s. I knew she was ready.