The Last of the Grandmas

My Grandma Smith died.

Sorry to start off that way, but this is the statement I repeat to myself throughout the days now since it happened. It explains why the sky looked a shade dimmer to me. It explains why I feel the ground gives way just a little when I walk now.

Her body was weary. Her spirit was weary. Believing she is in heaven, it is hard to begrudge the loss. And it wasn’t a shock. I’d made sure to say what needed saying in the event of…But it is a new reality to be in this world with no Grandma Smith.

I’m grateful for all the years I had her and even more so for all that she gave me. Without her, I would not have survived. Yes, there are others who helped, but the person I was imprinted on and turned to when turning needed doing, was Grandma Smith.

I have so many stories, but here are two of my most favorite about who she was to me:

She never spanked me, her “go to” was to have me stand in the corner. But I did get threatened with the flyswatter a few times. In Kindergarten I was supposed to walk home from school and one time had decided I wouldn’t. I just would wait and my Grandma would come pick me up. She eventually did, but she told me if I ever did it again, she’d bring the flyswatter. So, time passes, and this bully is harassing me, not letting me walk home, making me late. My Grandma pulls up in her giant white Ford with the navy blue vinyl top and gets out of the car with the flyswatter. She tells that boy that she brought it to use on me, but if he bothers me again she’ll use it on him.

One time when I was still in college, I ran into the house, wanting to drive west to see the sunset and wanted her to come along. We had to rush if we were going to make it. But she was cooking dinner. I was frustrated. Her blue eyes twinkled and she said we needed to get up higher and let’s get the ladder. We climbed up on the roof of the woodshed in the backyard and watched the sky go from blue to scarlet to the deepest purple. Yes, the sky was incredible, but I knew then the memory of my 60+-year-old Grandma on the roof with me would be the most vibrant part of that memory. More than the colors of the sky, I remember her navy blue Keds and my white ones dangling over the edge of the roof.

All we leave behind is what

we give others to carry on for us.

I won’t be able to do this for Grandma Smith. The legacy is too much and I’m not up to the task because in so many ways we were so different. She was kinder and gentler than I am. She was an introvert. She had a gift for subtlety that I not just lack, but fail to comprehend. It is too much to think that I will be able to carry forward all she gave me.

She loved me. She made me feel safe. She gave me books. She gave me safe harbor. She did not like this move to Texas. At all. But she also said, “I got to live my life. And you have to live yours.” And so, in that, she gave me safe passage.

I’ll probably leave notes throughout the house reminding myself and others to have a nice day and turn off the lights. I’ll make potato salad and soups. I’ll garden. I’ll stick up for others and I’ll climb the rooftops to see the sunset. It’s the best I can do.

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