Story by Terri McPherson
Grammy lives four hours away, and I don’t see her nearly as often as I should. But I write her long letters and she sends me sweet cards in between visits. She understands the busy-ness of everyday living, Grammy always understands. Short in stature and elf-like in appearance, her presence looms large in my life despite the distance.
The kind wrinkles on her face belie the strength of her convictions. Draw her into a discussion and she will debate politics, religion and baseball in one sitting. She’s a wizened old pixie and I am grateful for the defining moments she’s brought to my life.
While standing at the side of my Grampy’s deathbed, I held her tight when the nurses urged her to speak to her unconscious husband. As she bent close to his ear, I held my breath, afraid the poignant moment would send me off in a wail of sobs. But before a tear was shed, she straightened up and uttered a feisty retort, “He can’t hear me. He’s not wearing his hearing aid.” That spark in her broken spirit taught me to go through the grieving process without allowing sorrow to completely swallow me up.
A few short years later, we stood side by side once again. This time, in front of my brother’s casket. In the face of my endless tears, she told me she had cried all her tears out when Grampy died, and apologized for not crying with me. The pain of her apology showed me I would need my tears in years to come and I didn’t let my well run dry.
Grammy was at my side when I woke from surgery last year. In the midst of a post-operative haze, a handful of her soft spoken words parted the fog in my head. “I want you to know how very much I love you.” When I turned toward her voice, I saw a glistening in her eyes. Was my medicated mind playing a trick? To this day, I don’t know. The anesthetic pulled me back from consciousness before I could ask. However, I drifted off to sleep with the knowledge that nothing is carved in stone, and you’re never too old to grow new feelings.
I catch slivers of Grammy’s personality sneaking their way into mine. They are traits that enhance my character and fit comfortably inside my skin.