February 27, 2013
This afternoon, I went to my grandmother’s funeral. I still haven’t wrapped my mind around the fact that she’s gone. The past few days have felt like a dream. Sometimes events don’t seem real while they’re actually happening — but after time goes by, and those events sink into the past, they DO seem real.
Granny was 80 years old. She suffered a series of strokes a few months ago and she wasn’t quite the same afterward. One of the last times I saw her, she was at my parents’ house. It was a sunny, pleasant day in early November. My mother was at work. My German friend, Jochen, had been staying with my parents that week. He was on his way to the airport to catch his plane back home. My dad and I helped him carry his luggage outside, where his rental car was parked in the driveway.
My dad had given me $20 for gas earlier in the week. After Jochen drove away, and we were standing in the living room again, I sheepishly tried to pay Daddy back. He told me not to worry about the money. He seemed surprised that I had even brought it up.
I said, “But I’m a grown man! I shouldn’t take money from my parents!”
Granny, who was sitting on the couch, suddenly shouted, “You’re his child, Matthew! He would give you his last dime if he could, to help you!”
She said it with so much emotion. I didn’t even know she had been following our conversation. I felt shocked, humbled, and grateful all at the same time. I can’t fully explain the way I felt in that moment, but I wished I could hang onto that feeling forever.
Then Daddy, Granny, and I sat on the couch together, eating some little rectangular cookies Jochen had left with us. I don’t remember what we talked about, but we joked with each other and laughed for several minutes. There was something magical about our chemistry. Daddy and Granny were like a couple of old friends of mine, rather than my father and my grandmother. I wish I could remember what our conversation was about, but it has slipped away now.
When it was time for me to go, and I was about to step out the front door, Granny laughed and said, “Have a good day … and have a good week … and have a good rest of your life!”
I shuddered a little bit when she said that last part. I felt like she was saying “goodbye” to me on more than one level. She had been around for the first 33 years of my life — coming to all my birthday parties, watching me graduate from high school, slipping me five bucks whenever she showed up at my house — but now things were going to change. She was about to leave this world. She was getting ready to go off to Heaven. She wouldn’t be here to see the rest of my life. And she was telling me, “I hope everything goes alright for you down here on Earth.”
I have to stop thinking about it or I’ll cry all over my keyboard.
Not long ago, I drew a picture of Granny and gave it to her. The original photo was taken in 2010 — on Christmas, I think. Here is my drawing…