I was supposed to visit Grandma this week. We planned to ride the tram on top of the Sandia’s and have dinner at the restaurant up there. We were going to go through all of her recipes and organize them. I planned to copy the coveted ones. We were also going to make her pop overs with orange syrup! She wrote all of our plans down.
We were not going to go to the zoo. The boys would’ve loved it but…
“Your Man doesn’t like the zoo,” she protested.
“That’s OK. The boys will and so he will go along with it.”
“No…this is his vacation too. There is plenty of other things to do besides the zoo.”
She always took his side.
Instead we went to visit my Aunt and Uncle and then from there went down to the Grand Canyon.
When I walked into my Aunt’s home I was struck by how much it smelled like my Grandma’s house. She had beans in the crockpot. Maybe that’s why. Grandma always had a meal ready for us when we came in to visit.
Many have not been able to relate to my grief for Grandma. She was old. Grandparents die. But while most people grow out of their Grandparents I feel that I grew in to mine. The older I got the more I appreciated her, relied on her. The closer we became as friends. On the drive up I marveled at how painful this is. It’s just like losing one of my best friends. But death is a part of life. This experience has made death more tangible than it has ever been for me. One day all of the people I love will die. How many will pass before I do? How many times will I be cut this deep?
During our visit I kept looking at my Aunt. Like a delicate lace veil, my Grandmother’s likeness gently laid over her. Of all of her sisters she looks the most like her. I wanted to lay her hand in mine and examine it more closely. I wanted to master the familiar gestures. It was the same at Grandma’s reception after the funeral. All of her family was there and I wanted to grab her sister and brothers, their children and their children’s children and stuff them all into that hole she left. I want to take all of my family that I cherish like a friend and all of the friends that I love like family and preserve them in the pit that was in my heart.
She was very present in my thoughts on our trip to the Grand Canyon. We took the Grand Canyon Railway. When I told her of our plan she told me that she had done the same thing not too long ago. Buddy and Bug loved the experience on the train! They had a snack table with yummy treats and drinks. They liked milling about the train; crossing from car to car to use the bathroom or check out the snack car. There were cowboy singers that came through to entertain us and on the return ride, bandits rode up on horses along side the train, hopped on and robbed us! A little boys dream!
At the Canyon we hiked the rim and even a ways down into the Canyon. I kept wanting to call and share all the details with her! She loved to hear about what one ate on trips, where they stayed, what we did and saw. She would loved to have heard about the boys reactions to everything and about the extra gray hairs I sprouted while trying to keep them away from the edge.
We went to catch the sunset. When I would visit we would sit on her porch to catch the sunset and watch it turn the Sandia’s red. Likewise the Canyon turned a vibrant and firey red! It was just her thing. I cried. She would’ve loved it. I don’t think she missed it though. I think she caught this one. I just felt very near to her in those moments that the sun gave the day a final encore before bowing out.
I want to stop grieving her. However, in the moments when I start to feel normal again, I’m taken with a bit of panic. I cling to my grief as if that’s where I’ll find her. I want to think of her and smile. I want to think of her and feel peace and not pain.
When we returned from our trip I had a letter waiting for me from one of her best friends. I had travelled a few times with Grandma and her “bestie.” My friend Lesley and I often travel together too and have talked about how awesome my Grandmother’s relationship with her friends are. We hoped to all take a trip together. We had considered doing it this April but Grandma decided it wasn’t a good idea. I can’t remember why it wasn’t going to work… Grandma’s friend sent me a touching note and photos she had found of some of her adventures with my Grandma. In one of the pictures she was laughing. I love the way she would scrunch her nose when she laughed!
“Memories, laughter, love…” Grandma’s friend wrote to me. “… the treasures we keep forever.”