I had my own grandparents. Ones that I adored… and one of which I’m still blessed enough to have currently grace this earth. My grandparents loved me, and treated me decent, but I was never favored and never really felt enjoyed. We always called out of courtesy before stopping by, and often times would be told that another day would be make a better visit. If we were able a visit, I couldn’t help but feel like they might like to spend their time differently. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with that or that I love them any less. I am just saying there is a significant difference between the people I called grandparents, and the ones that Therman called mawmaw and granddad.
About two weeks after Therman and I began dating, he took me to his grandparents house. I wish I could explain the feeling when you first walk in the door. Of course you’d have to get passed the cigarette smoke and the loud basketball game on television, but just beyond that was the happiest faces in the world. Granddad would smile a wide toothless grin and wave, exposing the hole in the elbow of his favorite blue sweatshirt as soon as he saw you and mawmaw would say “come in, come in and sit down!” Even when there were other people there, or they had things they needed to do, when we stopped by, usually unannounced, it was as though we were the most important part of their day.
For the first couple years of our marriage Therman and I spent Sundays at their house. Therman would sit in the living room and talk to grand dad and watch the game, and I would sit with mawmaw in the kitchen and clip coupons while she looked at the Sunday ads or worked in the kitchen. I can’t really remember when we stopped doing this. Maybe it was after Brooke was born and I got ill, but even then, I have so many pictures of Brooke with them… so it couldn’t have been then. Still somehow our visits turned from weekly to every couple of weeks, and soon Grand Dad passed away.
Therman took the news exceptionally hard, maybe it was in part because it was the first death of his family he’d experienced, but mostly because the world was without one of his favorite people. I kept asking myself why I was taking the news so hard. Certainly I loved him for all of the seven years I’d known him… but I had no idea how much I would miss him. There was uncertainty of what that meant for the family as a whole, but somehow Christmas Eve at their house managed to continue with mawmaw, and our visits continued, albeit not nearly as regular as they once were. Birthdays still held an envelope with $11 in it – $10 for your birthday and a buck for a card. She disregarded inflation J . We were still able to look through crochet patterns and at craft projects, together, while eating cosmic brownies and drinking dr. pepper. Life continued and eventually the wound of losing grand dad was closing up to a dark scar.
I loved her telephone calls. I’d answer the phone and she’d say “it’s maw maw honey, just wanted to let you know I was thinking of you” and then she would hang up the phone. The first several times this happened I stood there with the receiver in my hand listening to dead air, perplexed at what had just happened J. She didn’t want to talk on the phone, just wanted to let us know we were thought of.
For the past few weeks, mawmaw hasn’t been well. Therman and I have refrained from visiting her because we didn’t want to let on that we were having our own marital issues, so it’s been since February since we’ve seen her. She’d get sick and go to the hospital but always come back home. One nurse said “I know her, she’s been here before, and that woman is strong.” She was strong. But everything despite its own strength has a beginning and an end.
I want to tell you how sad we all are, and how dark it was for those who loved her to watch her suffer, but this blog isn’t about me, or anyone else’s feelings – it’s about a woman who loved completely, had a welcoming heart, and made a strong impact on the lives of so many people. We all knew how lucky we were.
At four O’Clock this morning she met Jesus, and saw Grand Dad’s toothless grin for the first time in years. I imagine that all the angels will soon have bed dolls and afgans, chocolate candy and cosmic brownies, and maybe a pack of cigarettes. They’ll play scrabble and Chinese checkers and watch all the good ball games. She was a phenomenal woman, and a different kind of grandparent. Heaven just got a whole lot better.
Meanwhile we’ll all try to figure out how to get on down here with out her….