On Monday Jimmie and I slept in while the kids generally run amok around the house for a few hours. It was glorious.
I never really dream (or remember my dreams) because I sleep too hard. But Monday morning I had all sorts of dreams. I don’t remember the bulk of what happened, I forget as soon as I open my eyes, but I do remember they were all about the place where I was born and where many family members still live. I haven’t been in ages, but my dreams were full of memories of the tiny town I spent the first eight years of my life in.
Once I awoke, I lay there trying to recreate the town in my mind. Jim and I talk on and off about taking the kids there and showing them where I was born. So as I lay there thinking what it would be like to visit this strange land called Arkansas and the family the kids would meet, etc. it dawned on me , as it regularly does, that the one person I would love to see isn’t there anymore.
You’ve heard many a funny story of my Arkansas Grammy, her funny anecdotes and her priceless advice about washing out “weeny bags” to use as zip-locks. But I’ve never talked about what a sweetheart she was. She was as simple as gardening dirt and as everyday as an ice cold Budweiser. Her laugh was a tinkling cross between a giggle and a chuckle and she was beautiful in her own unique way. She was a feisty and rambunctious redhead (once upon a time) and had a flair for drama. She was, on all accounts in my book, a perfect grandma. And she made me feel so, so special. She adored Elle once she was born. Elle was two when cancer finally beat her. My Grammy was 73.
I didn’t appreciate her nearly enough when she was alive. I didn’t call as much as I should have. I never visited. I was wrapped up in me and early adulthood and she fell by the wayside. I can’t think of anything I regret more now.
Monday morning, when I dreamed of her home and times I spent with her chasing me in the back yard with a “switch” threatening to “tan my hide” but never following through, I had no idea what that day was. When I lay in bed thinking of visiting and then realizing she wouldn’t be there to spend time with, it completely escaped me that it was that time of year again.
And then, when I got up and was moving through my morning rituals, it hit me. I called to Jim and said, “I think this is the day my Grammy died.” I couldn’t believe it, it left me breathless for a moment. I’m not one for keeping track of the sentimental. I couldn’t tell you most people in our family’s birthdays, much less the day anyone died. I always think of her at Christmas because it was her absolute favorite time of year, and I remember going to my mom’s Christmas day to say my last goodbyes. But I never recorded the day of her passing to memory. I hate dwelling on those things. I couldn’t even go to her funeral.
It’s taken me a couple of days to be ready to confirm my suspicions, but I decided to look up her obituary to face what I already knew. Monday morning, January 2nd, was the seven your mark of the last time I spoke to her. As she lay in my mother’s guest room, in a hospital bed they brought in to keep her comfortable, my heart was so broken I couldn’t even say goodbye. The woman with such a zeal and love for the most simple things in life was laying there lifeless and in pain. It was heartbreaking. I wrote her a letter, which I don’t think my mom was even able to read to her, and said goodbye in the only way I could.
Elle and I flew home that morning, and I believe she passed that night. I could be wrong about the days, but I think that’s about it. My mom said she told her Elle and I were home safely and everyone was where they were supposed to be, and if she wanted to just let go now, she could. My mom left the room to get her something, and when she came back she was gone. She left as simply as she lived. She was beautiful.
So, Monday morning, I believe my Grammy sent me a dream and some wonderful memories. I think it was her way of saying, “Don’t you forget me Missy. I’m keeping my eye on you.” It was my best Christmas Gift ever.