Tuesday Slice of Life Story Challenge

Today is February 2nd, 2021, and I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Story Challenge.

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.

But still.

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.

Author: Lanny Ball

For more than 27 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy specialist, working and living in the great state of Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on this blog, as well as on Twitter @LannyBall. Lanny is also a co-author of a blog dedicated to supporting teachers and coaches that maintain classroom writing workshops, twowritingteachers.org.

14 thoughts on “Tuesday Slice of Life Story Challenge”

  1. Oh Lanny. Your Grammy sounds like a real treasure. I love that she read your slices and that the gift was waiting for you. 100 years is really sometimes. 100 years to touch the lives of those around her. I know that doesn’t make it any easier. Thinking of you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hugs and prayers to you and your family. I hold the last laugh I had with my Dad close. I can still hear it more than a year later. Your Grammy lived an incredible, generous life – the gift captures this. Thinking of you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amazing story, Lanny – of an amazing lady and love itself, which is always amazing. I am thinking about the gift of that last laugh together – and then, that package. So incredible, as your birthday isn’t until March! Did she know… was she just making sure… it sounds like a grandmother, determined even at the last to ease the pain for her own. I know those “icy fingers” and no, we aren’t ever really ready. The memories will absolutely sustain you – a great gift in themselves. Wishing you peace today and in the days ahead, knowing how much you’ll miss your Gram. My grandmother and I were very close (I was named for her); she died on the eve of her 91st birthday, fifteen years ago, and I miss her every single day. How I’d love to talk to her and her her thoughts on so many things – yet she never feels very far away.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lanny, thank you for this touching post. Losing someone you love is NOT easy. I know because I lost my husband suddenly seven years ago. I make it through the days by recalling all the memories of our 35 years together.
    Cherish that shirt (how amazing is that?) and the gift of her laughter. They will bring you comfort and warm memories I am certain. Sending warm thoughts your way.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Not easy for sure. Like today – having to use the snow blower by myself hehe! I can only laugh or else I’ll cry! (See my post for more laughter)
        I wasn’t sure I should have posted but I wanted you to know that I understand the pain.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This is such a heartfelt tribute, reminded me of my grandmother who was a doctor and would have been a little older than yours if she were around. Sorry for your loss, no words would be good enough. Peace and light!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a beautiful testament to your grandmother’s love. It is everlasting. I believe that losing a loved one always hurts regardless of age.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lanny, I am so sorry for your loss. Your Grammy sounds so wonderful and what a sweetheart she was-sending you a gift. Perhaps, it was her way to give you one last beautiful thought. I too miss my grandmother and rewrote a poem about her hands and how they influenced my life just today. The paragraph started with “Tears still fresh in my eyes”, is beautifully written in such a tender way.

    Liked by 1 person

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