Gammy (Also known as “the one I’ve been wanting to post for two days now but it’s been hard to write…”)


Thursday was a strange day. I woke up just thinking about my grandmother, Gammy, who passed away two years ago on Good Friday. All morning she just lingered with me… Eating breakfast, taking a shower, dropping off the girls Gammy continued to weigh heavily on my mind. So I decided that despite the fact I had lots of errands to run, I needed to go see her. Visit her. Which is big. I haven’t been to visit her since her burial. I’ve always intended to. But I’ve always avoided it…
One reason is that cemeteries have always creeped me out. My family has never been the kind to “go visit” our loved ones once they pass… Gammy herself even liked to tell us not to step on anyone, or breathe too deeply in a cemetery because we might inhale a lost spirit. (I think Gammy had a sick sense of humor…) But, as I felt so compelled to go, I sucked up my fears and went.
Of course I got there and promptly got lost. I didn’t realize how big the cemetery was… It was an adventure in itself just finding her grave.  Once I found it I just stared at it for a while. It all looked so different than the last time I was there…
Then I sat, right there. Crisscross applesauce. On top of my grandmother. (With my zombie phobia you can understand what a huge deal that was for me. I could even imagine her bursting from the ground to tell me to get up off of her and sit like a lady.)
I arranged her flowers… Yellow roses. Both Gammy and I always had an affinity for yellow roses. Well,I think she did, anyway. It’s what my Paw always gave her for their anniversaries. It’s what they gave me when I had my first child. It’s what was on top of her casket and what we each dropped onto it as it was being lowered into the ground… But come to think of it I don’t think I ever actually heard her say she liked them… How would that be for irony if she really never liked them in the first place?
Then I just started talking. Out loud, to my dead grandmother. I talked about what was going on, the girls, my husband, my friends, work, my mom… I told her about everything. It was like verbal diarrhea. As I was talking, it all just hit me. This flood of Gammy memories hit me like I had just been punched right in my chest and I started bawling like a baby. It was the first good cry I’ve ever had over my grandmother passing. I’d held it in for almost two years.
I had forgotten…
I had forgotten how I would sit at the bar in their kitchen while she ironed Paw’s clothes and just talk to her for hours. I would tell her all the latest gossip, about boys I liked, fights with friends. She would always weigh in with her opinion… The women in my family like to have their opinions heard.
The women in my family also love to shop. It’s in our blood. Gammy used to take me shopping every year for my birthday. And I knew I was going to get something good. She’d let me pick out one outfit, sometimes two, and if she approved she’d get them for me. Afterwards we’d get ice cream.
Gammy loved ice cream. Vanilla ice cream in particular. She had the most meticulous and systematic way to eat an ice cream cone, it would take her forever…
I had suppressed all of these memories and so many more for so long. For two years I have felt so guilty for not being there for her and my grandfather and my mom when it was roughest… For not having said goodbye to Gammy properly… I had just buried it all so deep and it all came out in this huge flood of emotion. Then I looked down and realized that during all of that… I had been twiddling my thumbs.
Gammy always twiddled her thumbs. She had tiny hands but fat little thumbs that bent backwards at an odd angle… and I have the same thumbs… She would always joke with me that we could never play the piano with thumbs like ours. It almost felt like she was there which freaked me out because I didn’t want to inhale her… And made me feel strangely comforted at the same time. That she had been listening, and in some way making sure she was heard in return…
I dusted myself off, and promised to come back… A promise that this time, I’ll keep.
-Shan
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