I sat there and watched the nurse wrap your swollen pink fluid-filled legs. And I hurt for you. You did what you’ve always done. You handled pain and aging and dependence on others in the most graceful way. You conversed with us, you smiled, and you playfully asked if we would like to sign your new “casts.” And I had to turn away after I told you that everybody loves you and wants to be around you. I didn’t want you to see my eyes fill up with tears. Because I already miss you. You said, like you always do, “those boys sure love their mama” as one of them tried to force his way onto my lap.
You’re so selfless and brave and graceful as you struggle to lift your coffee to your mouth. You always appreciate me coming and you act like a 99 cent McDonalds coffee or a few sips of Coca Cola are the kindest gifts. And selfishly, I want you to be here forever. Encouraging us, watching my boys grow, and reminding me in the most subtle unintentional ways of the amazing daily gifts right in front of my face.
I love to listen to you tell stories of the farm or the boy who had a crush on you in highschool. Or the time your big sister, Zella, saved you from drowning because you couldn’t swim. I want to hear stories of my mom growing up in your house. I want to tell you how much I love you. How I know it had to hurt to leave the house you lived in for 59 1/2 years. I want to tell you how I loved sitting at the kitchen counter as a child watching you make fried pies and how I know that you always saw me eat more than my fair share. More than my siblings. I want you to know that I purposely washed that perm you gave me out of my hair because I looked like a poodle. Sorry for lying and saying it was an accident. I didn’t want to hurt your feelings. You always think I look beautiful. I want you to know that you make the best everything, biscuits and gravy, fried chicken, cobbler, sugar cookies and pies to name a few. I want you to know how much I am going to miss our visits. I don’t think I can tell you all of this because I would cry. And I don’t know if I could stop. I don’t want you to hurt for me. You’ve taken on the weight of the world for the past ninety four years. And you need to know that you deserve a break. You deserve Heaven.
I want you to know that we will be okay without you. We will miss you terribly. You should know that you have inspired us all. Your humble, grace-filled beauty lives on in every single one of us. We will continue to make you proud. We have learned about living life and loving others from the best. You are one of the most gentle, kind-hearted, selfless, unbelievably strong, smart and brave women to ever walk this earth. Thank you, Grandma, for all that you are, for all that you’ve sacrificed, for living so humbly and aging so beautifully. Thank you for leaving an impression on every person who has truly known you. We are the lucky ones.
I love you, Grandma.
And as you always tell me, “I know you do, Amelia. And I love you.”