I’ve been thinking about Grandma today on what would have been her 81st birthday. I remember calling her on the phone on this day last year to wish her a Happy 80th, and I remember her telling me that her big plans for that day were to mow the lawn and play Canasta with Janet, one of our longtime neighbors. Grandma still had so much life and energy in her at 80 years old. It just doesn’t make any sense at all that she left us so suddenly when she still had a lot of years left in her.
Throughout the last half of her 70’s, I had begun to think about her inevitable future departure from us. And after she turned 80, I began to think about it a lot more. I began telling myself to appreciate our regular phone conversations more, because they might not last much longer. But I also kept telling myself that she was only 80 and that she would very likely live to be 90 or older considering her sharp mind, her independence, and her able-bodiedness. There was an old joke in our family that when a relative lived to be too old that we would have to take them out back and shoot them, and we sometimes joked to Grandma that we would have to do that with her if she lived too long. I never would have guessed that she would suddenly leave us only a few months after her 80th birthday. This was an elderly woman who lived alone, still drove a car, had perfect 20/20 vision, and still scrubbed her floors and mowed her own lawn…which by the way was a full acre. I’m an Atheist, but Grandma was a Christian, and I respected that. She had no use for church, but she said she often talked to God while riding on the lawnmower.
It will soon be seven months since she passed away, and I don’t know how I have managed to get through these many months without her. I have been through some very dark days where I wanted so much to call her on the phone to vent or ask for advice, and I couldn’t anymore. I miss her presence every single day. Maybe someday 10, 15, or 20 years from now, the loss of Grandma and our family home won’t hurt as much anymore. But for right now, it still drives a spike through my heart each day that I live.