My Grandma died 4 days before her 80th birthday. I said to her on one of my hospital visits that I was going to buy two bags of cheese trix for her so she could have a birthday treat when it came....she smiled silently and I wondered if it was a happy or sad one.
Her prayer mother friends, my family, some of my friends - they all said, "Prepare yourself." I fought this mind preparation; I didn't want to let my granny go, I rationalized to them that I was not bringing down death on her, and she could possibly come back home to reside beside my bedroom for many more years. After all, my life was just starting; I'd only just resumed working, I had not contributed to the headcount of her great grandchildren, whichever husband I would take in the future had not received her blessing. It just wasn't time yet in my eyes.
Reality teaches that the human eye cannot see what God can....until later if at all. I didn't want to let her go. But what I slowly recognize is that God helped her to prepare, and us too. When my Grandma was 78 years old, I visited my aunt in New York who made me aware of her desire to celebrate Grandma's 79th birthday "if life spare" in Jamaica the following March. Puzzled, I questioned her intentions and pushed for a 80th birthday celebration. My aunt simply said, if you want to do something for someone, just do it and don't wait long.
We came together as a family and pulled off a superb 79th birthday celebration for Grandma Pearl Peart.
As I earnestly told Grandma in the hospital that I'd get her some cheese trix, I figure now that she knew that her big birthday celebration had already passed. She was one of the smartest and most intuitive persons I ever knew. I guess each grey strand in her beautiful white head helped her to see things I won't unless I manage to reach that age. I remember all the time, with a pang and a bit of a melancholic smile, the last time she called my name. I had just combed her hair and was sitting beside her on her bed in her bedroom - she hadn't gone to the hospital as yet, and she just said my name. I answered her, yes Grandma, what's the matter? Then she said my name again. Then again, then over and over. Danielle, Danielle, Danielle. With each utterance she drew closer to me, til she had her head in my lap. I stroked her hair and listened to my Grandma calling my name with a sigh in each syllable. It was hard to listen to, her exhaustion. But I realized that she was telling me that I should prepare myself. I rubbed her hair in my own way to say I love you Grandma. I didn't tell her before she died, but she knew. I wish I could have said it one last time though. Like my cousin who she raised, who told her as I held the phone to her ear "I love you Ma."
So, I make up for it now. I constantly write I love you Grandma. I hope she sees my scribbles.
Rupaul says his mantra is that you can't be everything to all people. My grandma was everything to all who knew her. We all wanted to laugh with her, cry with her, fight for her, live for her. This was poignantly clear at her funeral when my Dad, her son-in-law wept unabashedly and with much misery at the passing of the spiritual heroine and protector of our home, as he called her. I had been staying strong throughout the service but as my Dad wept during his remembrance of her, the floodgates opened and so many tears began to fall in each pew of the massive church. I felt closer to my Dad then. I wanted to go up and hug him. Instead I bowed my head and wept, very sad but also very thankful for my Grandma's help in drawing me closer to my Pop.
I'm not from a family of people who say I love you every day, every month, every year or every five years. We write it more. Sometimes our deeds don't show it, nor the things we say. Sometimes they do though.
Grandma, I love you with all my heart. Thank you for giving me love and keeping our family together. I will never forget all the things you've done for me, and all you mean to me. I will continue this life without seeing you, but believing that you are watching over me and assisting God in guiding me through this life to the next. You've made me laugh so many times and I will remember your sunny disposition and your encouraging and optimistic words of advice. Dear God, thank you for this beautiful gift.