It's been nearly 8 years now. Eight years since I heard her laughter or saw her smile, watched as her thumbs twirl around her folded hands. Eight years since I combed her beautiful white hair, still shiny and full, or grabbed her walker to help her to the bathroom. Eight years since the card games have stopped and eight years since liver and onions have entered my mind as a full course meal. It's been nearly eight years since I last had my gramma alive with me here on earth. And lately, there isn't a day that passes that I don't see her face in my mind, hear her talking to me about OJ, or wish that I could go to her appartment for a visit. I miss my gramma.
It's so strange to me that after all this time I'm suddenly encountered with this need again. I mean, of course I have missed her through the years, of course I have thought about her, but to this degree has long since passed. Or has it? She was someone that was always in my life. From the time I can remember she was often with us, and lived with us for many years of my childhood. She wasn't one of those gramma's that came to stay for a few days, but was always there when I came home from school, most likely not baking cookies, but surely with a True Love romance magazine to pass into my hands once she'd read it. True Love, that is something that will always remind me of my gramma, for more reasons than one. Yes, that was her magazine of choice and as a teenager she turned me onto those flighty romance stories with a vengeance. But true love was also what I felt for her. Even in those most difficult of times having to share a home with my gramma, there was never a time that I didn't want her around. She was my friend and I loved being there to help her with tasks she could no longer do herself as her health started to regress. She was always so thankful when I brought her a warm cup of milk before bedtime and often rewarded me with a little candy treat from her private stash. Her extreme opinions about the OJ Simpson trial stick with me like it was yesterday, knowing that no matter what the hour I would find gramma in her electric chair covered with a blanket and holding a stuffed animal, the Simpson trial on TV. There were many an evening we would sit together at the kitchen table with a deck of cards between us but never finish the game as she began telling me stories of her life, and there was nearly never a story that didn't end with little tears flowing down her face as she relived the story of losing her son.
I feel so lucky that I had my gramma in my life. I feel even more lucky that she was also someone that had such great impotance in my son, Kaeden's, life. He remembers her and speaks of her often, though he was a mere four years as he held her hand on her death bed in the hospital. He speaks often of the little empty medicine bottles she would fill with coins for him and present to him on our visits, or about the Halloween day she acted so utterly shocked when he showed up as a little dragon on her doorstep trick-or-treating. She played a huge part in our lives, and I hope that in those days we gave to her as much as she gave to us in terms of love and support.
As we made an emergency trip to Laramie knowing that it would be the last time I held her wrinkly hands and kissed her soft cheek, I had a moment to tell her goodbye, as she lay nearly comotose in her hospital bed. I say nearly, for as I whispered in her ear that I wasn't ready to tell her goodbye, she let me know yet again that she loved me as her hand squeezed mine in a tight embrace. I left the hospital that night with tears flowing from my eyes, knowing that it would be the last chance to see her alive. And it was.
We loaded her coffin into the back of my truck to take her on her last journey home, to lay her to rest next to her husband in Idaho. We spent the trip stopping and reminiscing on the way, playing in the creek and feeling the security of having my gramma with us on that last journey. Though her body was dead, her spirit was most definitely not, and though it was odd driving some 12 hours with her coffin sheltered in the camper-top, it was also comforting and a feeling of security having her with us. We all felt it. And as much as it was a time of grieving, it was also a time of peace.
I miss my gramma. I wish she were here today to see the woman I have become, to meet my husband and my son, to help me through my difficult moments with Kaeden. Yet, she never leaves my heart, and is always present with her quiet wisdom. She is a woman I will never forget, and be thankful that I had the wonderful times I did with her. I love you dear gramma. And it's most definitely True Love.