It has been so long since I’ve blogged I hardly know where to begin! Man suggested that I do it like Star Wars and start at the end and end at the beginning.
“This past month has hardly been epic!” I laughed at him, but really what he said made sense.
I think I should start with the Neil Diamond concert.
My Grandma has always wanted to see Neil Diamond perform live and so when I heard he was coming to the Denver area I had to get tickets. I bought the tickets last December and gave them to her as her Christmas present. I wasn’t there when she opened it but Mom was and she told her it was the best Christmas gift she’d ever received! She called to thank me and immediately began to worry about what she would wear and how she would get there. I told her there was no need to worry about how she would get here because 3 of her daughters were going to the concert as well.
“And if for some reason none of them can bring you Man said he would fly down and bring you back himself.”
“Neil Diamond is pretty old…” she said, “I hope he doesn’t get sick or die before we get to see him!”
Grandma died in March.
The remaining ticket holders all agreed we should still go to the concert. It would be a time of remembrance and a celebration of Grandma. I gave her ticket to Sissy.
After Grandma died I had several friends, who had been through the experience of losing a loved one, say that they have had times in their lives when they felt the one passed was near. Since my beautiful Grandma left I’ve been looking for her everywhere and hoping to “feel” her near. Looking for signs. Sometimes I don’t know I’m doing it and then I feel disappointed and then I realize why.
When I auditioned for a show I wanted her support. She didn’t show up. I couldn’t even call her to tell her about it afterward.
When I bombed the call back, when I hiked two 14ers, when my Mom got into town, when I was in Vegas, The Grand Canyon and every time I’ve been in New Mexico, I looked for her but she wasn’t there.
The upcoming concert was bitter-sweet. I of course was so, so disappointed that Grandma was missing the show but I was so sure she wouldn’t actually miss it. So many others believed the same and assured me she would be there “in spirit.”
My Mom came into town first. We spent a lot of mornings out on my back patio. We laughed and we cried a lot. I don’t think Grandma was there.
Then my Aunt Marilyn came and we all took a trip to Breckenridge. Mom watched the kids while my Aunt, Uncle and Cousin climbed Gray’s Peak and later Bierstadt. (I will blog on that later.)
I was sick to my stomach the whole week. It actually started before my mom even got there. I saw my doctor who diagnosed anxiety.
Finally Sissy and Aunt Cathy arrived! Now it was real. Now the party was starting. Right? My stomach gurgled and rolled. I’m sure the family noticed but we were all just trying to relax. Caren came by for dinner with us and immediately registered the grief and worry on my face. As I prepared a salad she put a picture of Grandma with her best friend on the island where I worked.
“There!” she said, “Now everyone is here!”
*I love you Caren!*
The next day was Neil Diamond day. The kids went to Winter Park with Man and Uncle and the ladies had the whole day to be together. We went shopping in Evergreen. There was a furniture store there with some art work that my Mom really wanted her sisters to see. It was right by my favorite flower shop, Stems. While we shopped around I bought all of us sunflowers. We had them poking out of our purses. A happy bit of sunshine! I love flowers for no reason and I love to do everyday things with flowers in my hand!
For lunch we dined at Creekside Winery. It’s a tiny little place that has a lovely deck that looks out over the creek. We were seated at a shaded table on the deck. The water tickled the rocks and gurgled with laughter at the beauty of the day. Grandma would’ve loved the location and the delicious, light and healthy fare. I looked for her at lunch. She should’ve been there. It was right up her alley!
After lunch we went home for short naps and to get ready for the concert. While Sissy and I got ready we played Neil Diamond hits, singing “SWEET CAROLINE!” as we rouged our cheeks and lengthened our lashes.
I texted Shalah:
Me: Getting ready to go to the Neil Diamond concert.
Shalah: Have a great time! Go all out, Mildred!
To Shalah I am Lola or Mildred. When I went to Vegas she instructed me to leave Mildred at home. In fact most of the time she asks, begs, orders that Mildred stay home. This was the first time that Mildred had permission to get out and be herself! It was sad really.
I printed out directions to the theater. It was going to be an hour drive. This, Grandma would’ve hated. In fact she probably wouldn’t have even stayed at my house. She would’ve stayed at a hotel very close to the concert venue. We planned to eat before the show. We would find a restaurant close by. I can’t even write about the drive without feeling my chest tighten. I was so stressed because we got lost on the way there. I kept catching myself leaning over the steering wheel, like if I looked hard enough I could find directions written on the road.
“Great. I’m driving like Grandma now.” You can drive Mildred!
“Relax! We have plenty of time! You’re doing great,” was the back seat chorus.
Let me just say that Google Maps had no clue where this place was. We stopped at a gas station and got better directions from a PHONE BOOK, thank you very much, and then we were on our way.
It took no time at all after that to find our location and a restaurant for dinner, which was right next to a hotel.
“That’s where Mom would’ve wanted to stay,” said my Aunt.
It kind of ticked me off because I know that’s true and I would’ve been really sad for Grandma to not come to my house while she was in town. Silly, I know. I was already ticked off because, thus far, she had not yet shown up and I was so certain that she would!
As we walked into the restaurant I noticed how Aunt Cathy held her purse close to her waist the way my Grandma used to, the other arm loose at her side but with a slight bend, ready to grab a door or…something. I can’t remember where we ate but we ate outside again. There was lots of laughter and talk of Grandma. I noticed my Mom and Aunt Marilyn both leaned on the table the way Grandma did and that Marilyn held finger foods the way she did.
Are these the signs? I wondered. I thought I would feel her, sense her somehow. This isn’t it, I decided. She’s waiting at the concert. She always liked to be early.
After dinner we got to the concert and took our seats just as ND took the stage. My sister and I SCREAMED! We didn’t scream so much because it was HIM or because he’s hot (dear Lord, no) but because we made it and because we were ready to have fun and act like silly girls at a “rock” concert! My Mom and I mimicked the back up dancers dance moves in our seats. It was like sit and be fit which was very appropriate I think.
The People Watching was FABULOUS! There were two guys who danced in the aisle together for several songs. I don’t think they even knew each other! There was a guy a few rows back behind us that first danced with his hands in his pockets and he just moved his head and bobbed his knees. Then he did a “stir the pot” move where his hands were in fists in front of him, one on top of the other, and he moved them in a small circle while his body moved from side to side. There were other Awesome White Guy Moves. There were some rowdy young women that sat on the row below us who kept trying to get another lady to dance with them. Next to us was an elderly woman who stayed seated with her hands folded in her lap through the whole show and an elderly couple who sat below us and to the right. They were arm-linked throughout the concert and sometimes looked at each other while they sang the part of the songs they knew.
I’m sure some of these people went home and said, “there was this group of ladies that sat near us. Two of them did all of the back up singers choreography and all of them kept sobbing from time to time. It was the weirdest thing!”
I’m not sure but I think I cried first during “Forever In Blue Jeans.” Then Mom cried in a song I don’t know. I joined her towards the end of the song, as did my sister. I don’t know about my Aunts. I am certain they took a turn to cry too but I don’t know when. We kept looking down the row at each other now and then to sort of check on everyone.
So Neil can still sing and that was good. When he sang “You’ll Be A Woman Soon,” he got down on his knees and sang to a woman on the front row.
“Oh my,” Sissy said, “I hope he will be able to get up!”
We laughed and I passed her quip to Mom who passed it down to her sisters. He indeed was able to get up and without even groaning or having to get on all fours first! The crowd erupted with cheering at his accomplishment! I’m sure most of the audience would not have been able to do it with as much grace. He sauntered down the stage as he continued to croon until he found another lady on the front row to serenade. Neil got down on his knees once again. He sort of melted into the floor as he sang until he was lying down and head to head with the woman. He sang “You’ll be a woman sooooon,” to a woman well past her prime. It was kind of…ew. Then the song ended and he came even closer to her so that it looked as if they kissed. The audience cheered. My party groaned and cringed a bit. He again managed to get up and promised us all that he didn’t really kiss her as his new wife would not permit it.
He liked to repeat songs that the audience liked. He would finish a song and we would all applaud and then he’d start the song up again.
“Take it up a 3rd!” he charged and we’d all sing along again.
When “Sweet Caroline” was performed the whole audience raised their voice to sing along. This was the one we had all been waiting for!
“Sweeeet Caroline! Bom, bom, bom! Good times never seemed so gooood! So good! So good! So good!” We all sang/shouted and pumped our fists.
The song ended. We applauded. He said we should sing the chorus again! Woo hoo! We all stood up (except the old lady next to my sister who did not stand a single time) and sang along again.
The song ended. We cheered.
“I couldn’t possibly sing that song again,” Neil Diamond said. “But YOU could!” and his band started it up AGAIN!
Now it was kind of a chore. My Mom, Sister, Aunts and I all looked at each other like, “are we standing up and doing this again?” We did but the fist pumps were a little limp and our singing lost it’s enthusiasm.
All and all it was a nice time. My Grandma would not have liked the seats because she would have had trouble walking up and down the stairs and she would not have liked that he sang “Sweet Caroline” three times but she wouldn’t have told me that. She would’ve had a great time.
Had she come.
Through out the concert I kept trying to find her and I never did. I think her sister, my Aunt Annabel, is taking up all of her time. I mean, when she’s not hanging out with Jesus and revelling in His Glory I think she’s sitting with Annabel talking about old times and preparing for the rest of their siblings to join them.
I was very disappointed. I couldn’t believe that she didn’t come. I really did not think she would miss it.
Shalah came to visit me last week and I thought we might go shopping in Evergreen. Then I thought that maybe we could get lunch somewhere.
I guess at Beau Jo’s since we have the kids, I thought but a picture of Creekside flashed into my head. That’s where I would really like to take her.
Then it sort of hit me that in that picture or Creekside I saw my sister, Mom, and my aunts all sitting at the table as well as my Grandma. She sat in my seat and the view was as if I had walked up to the table returning from the restroom or something.
She was there and I missed it! I thought back on my posture while driving, the way my Aunt held her bag, Aunt Marilyn’s hands and gestures, Mom’s posture at the table. I thought of us all crying through the show and how we all knew what she would think about the location of the venue to my home and our seats and the performance in general without her even telling us.
Maybe I’ll never get this sense or feeling of her near. Maybe she doesn’t come down to touch us. Maybe what people mean is that their essence, the core of who they are, lingers so that they can always be with us.
P.S. My cousin, Aunt Annabel’s granddaughter, says she has not felt her Grandma much since mine is with her now. So this kind of confirms my theory that The Sisters are very busy with one another. Probably not just catching up either. Maybe Annabel is giving Grams the tour, you know, showing her her favorite places. There’s bound to be a lot of favorite places too, seeing as how it’s Heaven. Maybe there is some sort of training program she has to go through like Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life. I don’t know. Plus, their brother joined them this August so… It may be awhile before she is all settled in.