Death has, once again, laid its icy hands upon my chest.
It was just last Tuesday she called me. “You didn’t write this week,” she said. No, I had not written. It had been a busy week, I explained. Had she read my post from the week prior? I asked. “The one about the mandoline?” she queried. “Oh, yes. My friend printed it out and read that one to me. I gotta tell ya, I never heard of a mandoline for a kitchen in my life!” she laughed. We both laughed.
That small laugh – our final one – was one of hundreds, maybe thousands I enjoyed with my 100-year-old Grammy. Besides my mom, Helen Abner Callaway, my dear Gram, was the woman I had known the longest.
Until last Friday.
Yes, she had lived nearly four months beyond the age of 100. Yes, I am so lucky to have had her in my life for so long. Yes, I should have been ready, prepared somehow for her passing.
Perhaps one can never prepare for the icy fingers of death. I don’t know. But I do know the phenomenally long life my grandmother lived stands as nothing less than remarkable. Born during the year of Women’s Suffrage, Gram bore witness to so much change across her century-long life. She gave freely; she raised three successful daughters; she contributed to her community. She was an incredible woman.
Tears still fresh in my eyes, I returned home last Friday after receiving the terrible call from my aunt. The sun had retreated behind the clouds, and the frigid air bit at the tips of my ears. Reaching my front door, I cast my gaze downward. There, I noticed the thin, nondescript package lying in the snow. Tearing at the edge, I slipped my hand inside the mysterious package and removed a fresh, new button-down shirt. And a card. It read,
“Happy Birthday! Love, Grammy.”
That was her. That was my Gram. Never forgot a birthday. Even mine, which isn’t until March.
I know the icy grief will remain for a while. But I await the warm memories that will eventually replace the sorrow I feel now. I love you, Gram.