Somebody’s Grandma

This is not one of the posts that I intended to post this week.  In fact this post is an unplanned one.  But as I took a last glance at an older lady as I exited the bus, I was struck with a sudden pang of sadness, an actual pain in my chest.  Heart ache is real.  I’d seen her when I got on too; an older woman wearing a hat covered in a plastic bag (it is raining here) and holding on tight to her small pull along suitcase.  My last glance at her face showed me that she was unsure of where she was going.  Her alert expression looked out of the bus’ windows for landmarks and signs.   She seemed a little anxious; some people were looking at her, bemused by the plastic bag covering her hat.  She is unfazed by those glances, focusing instead on where she is and hoping to go.

I see a lot of people during my daily commute, and sometimes to pass the time I make up little stories about them.  Clothing, expression, body language all combine to give the framework of the story while my mind does the rest.  In this story, that woman was someone’s grandma.  Someone’s Grandma making a trip to see her children or grandchildren for the summer.  They’re at work of course — because that’s what you do here, work — so she was given directions to their home or a convenient meeting spot.

This mental side trip was fun but it only made me miss my own grandma that much more.  And today especially I would have liked to talk to her.  I blinked back tears as I exited the bus, as I do now.

Christening Day, 1982. Aunt Winnie's Avenger, surpassed only by Grandpa's Cortina.

It’s odd that after 12 years I still see things in stores that I’d like to buy for her.  A pretty blouse.  A suit for church.  Cute shoes (she had cute shoes, you know).  Or I’ll see a news item and want to share.  We used to giggle over Allo! Allo! and Are You Being Served? and The Simpsons (she thought that Bart was a rude, funny little boy) + watch cricket (I still remember watching Shivnarine Chanderpaul’s first appearance for the West Indies, laughing hysterically over how big his helmet and pads were on his small frame) and she even tolerated my basketball watching (perhaps she loved MJ as I did too).  I hold these and other memories dear.  Sometimes, though, they are not enough.  As I’ve written before, often when I’m cooking I close my eyes and am instantly transported to her kitchen with me watching her cook.  Whatever step or technique I’ve forgotten or am unsure of I always remember.  I do not often remember my dreams but when I dream of her I remember.  Those dreams are vivid, imprinted on my brain for hours after I awaken.  I always awaken with a clogged throat and burning eyes, sometimes with tears already running down my cheeks.

My mother and I have a good relationship, punctuated by the dips that apparently characterize mother-daughter relationships.  Unquestionably though I know that even if we’re in the midst of one of those dips, I can call (on) her for anything.  With Grandma it was  a little different…still the same unquestioned support but often she was just easier to talk to and be around….plus I missed out on yapping to her about boys, school, picking a good church, my still-new job.   It is not the same to still talk to her, just out loud like that.  I’d like to pick up the phone and call; to be able to hear her voice; her laugh; her stern, kind words.

When I was told that she had died, I lost the ability to speak.  I managed to walk with Daddy to the Dean’s office to get permission for an indefinite leave from school (by the time she died I was already living in the U.S. and attending boarding school).  I vaguely remember meeting the yearbook supervisor on the way back to my dorm room and could not remember her name to introduce her to my father though I’d seen her every day for almost 9 months.  Thereafter, most everything is a blur punctuated by preparing for the funeral, the funeral…and watching my family cope yet fall apart.  I suppose that ‘they” would call this shock.

I hope that Somebody’s Grandma made it safely to her destination.  Though now cliché to many I urge you: if you’re still blessed to have your grandmother around then go spend some time with her.  Even if you know she’s ill you will not be prepared for the loss, the void in your life.  You will survive, of course, because she taught you how….but your life will be forever altered.  They’re a different breed from your parents.  They fill a different space in your life, and it is a true blessing to have a grandmother but even better — I think — if you truly cherish her while she’s on this Earth.  Yes I believe that these things are true.  I know them from my own experience and from seeing the relationships of friends with their grandmothers.  So, cherish…

I just miss her. Very much. Hope you know how much I love you, AJCC.  And guess what? I’m hungry…

9 Responses to “Somebody’s Grandma”
  1. Shumpynella says:

    Words seem trite but this was very touching & I know, heartfelt. I know oh too well that heartache for a lost loved one. I know the numbness and the lost in space feeling. Years later, I will agree it never goes away. You were blessed to have her and you honor her memory by living a life worthy of Grandma.

  2. Nicky Mack says:

    This is a beautiful post! Reminds me a lot of my paternal grandmother whom I’ve been missing for just shy of 5 years now. No matter how many days, hours, weeks go by, I still miss her terribly. Grandmas are amazing people – I honestly don’t know any other person who can love QUITE the way a grandma can!

  3. Mamachel says:

    This post made me cry. I love my grandma soo much and as I watch her age I shake the bad thoughts. I’m still not sure how i’ll deal with it. Lovely post mama!!!

  4. Ms. Nikks says:

    I feel this way about my maternal grandfather. I was sixteen when he died, about 12 years ago and I still miss him everyday. Every time I think of him the same fresh hurt and pain comes back. He was my heart. Perfect storybook grandfather.

    I have my maternal grandmother left and she’s in Jamaica, I make it a point to always take pictures and listen to her tell me stories. I can’t even bring myself to think of her not being around, but I know I’ll survive it because I survived Papa’s passing. I make sure I go home every year and sometimes I just study her face.

    • The memories are important yes but I’m glad that you’re still able to spend time with her.

      I still have my maternal grandpa and he’s great. A really wonderful, strong man who’s accomplished so much…sometimes I don’t think we — the family — realise just how much he has done.

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  1. […] Somebody’s Grandma (June) – Because I got to use one of my favourite pictures of me and my Grandma.  Plus, I shared one of my favourite commuting activities: people watching and story spinning . […]

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