I’m laying in bed tonight thinking about my Gramma. How I cannot believe I will never see her again after today, after seeing her so many days, for so very many years. How I miss her so …. acutely, already. I am trying to find solace in the fact that I had her in my life for nearly thirty-seven years. I want to look at her almost ninety years and thank God she had such an amazing full life, and that we were all so blessed to share it with her. But laying here tonight…I just hurt.
She was the very best kind of grandmother. Kind and loving but stubborn and strong, she was always on my side. When my mother and I would butt heads (as we so often do), my Gramma was always there to give me the edge (I only ever had a fighting chance when she was around!) She never meddled, but was always there when you needed her. She was there for all my performances, from high school through college, and even into my professional singing career as an adult, there she would be, show after show, out in the dark cheering me on–forever, my biggest fan.
We were buddies, die hard Chicago Cubs fans together in our misery as year after year, we watched our beloved flounder. In 2003, we watched them come so very close together, and watched as they unraveled together, in tears and shock. I always wished they would win for her, before she was gone. Of course, we are still without glory, and I wonder if they will win one now in my lifetime. The chances seem slim. But I will continue to watch, and wait, for both of us.
She was an avid card player, driving herself to pinochle with her friends twice a week up until this last (and final) setback. My sometimes card partner, she and I were always serious and focused on the task at hand; while my mom and dad bickered about meld bids, we rolled our eyes simultaneously, laughing. There were so many things we shared. A love of word puzzles, cards, sports, music…we were kindred spirits, and I was blessed to have such a wonderful connection with her.
It seems completely unfathomable to me that we never will sit across the card table from eachother again; she will never hand me her crossword to fill in the very few clues she didn’t get (she was so damn smart, really), she will never hold my daughters again–and I just can’t stand it. It seems so unfair, so….wrong. Even though this is the natural process of life, and yes, grandparents should go before parents, and parents should go before their children..and on and on….but see, here’s the thing; yes, I am so very lucky I had her for as long as I did. But because I had her this long, I got to know her so well. So much longer, and better than my other grandparents. She wasn’t just my Gramma; she was my friend, and “GG” to my children as well. It is a whole different level of loss. I think I just thought she would live forever. Her own mother died at 99, I just sort of…assumed she would live on and on. And really, until she fell and broke her hip around Thanksgiving, there was no reason to think otherwise.
In her final days, she was so incredibly physically weak, yet her mind still so incredibly sharp–something I am not sure I am grateful for or incredibly sad over. I think, perhaps, it is a combination of both. She was able to make her final requests; plan her own funeral, say goodbye to each and every one of her progeny. She died in her sleep with her five children present. Not many people get to go out that way. Nearly 90 years old, with your entire family at your side…it truly was a gift. And I know, because she was the very best, most devout Catholic you will ever meet, that if there is a God, she is right there with him tonight, his ever faithful servant. And she is with her Bernie (my Grampa) and everyone else she loved that went before. She is at peace. It’s the rest of us who are a wreck.
I could never begin to thank her for … well…. everything. For loving all of us so much. For always being there. For being the kind of woman I can’t help but wish I were. For being our collective memory for so very long, and being the keeper of our history. I hope we can make her proud as we move on as a family without our matriarch. We might have laid her to rest today; I might have sang my last song to her this morning at her funeral, but I will never be without her. She is a part of me; she always has been, and always will be.
My Irish lass; until we meet again, may god hold you in the palm of his hand.
I love you, Gramma. Watch over us til’ I see you again