As I prepare for my grandmother’s funeral, I am trying to keep my sanity by holding onto the many memories we’ve created in my 33 years. I was looking at pictures yesterday and what struck me as I admired them was that in all of my life’s greatest moments, my grandma was there. She has, in so many ways, been my biggest cheerleader.
About a week before my Grandma passed away, when her health transitioned from really bad to unbearable, I remember staying up almost all night thinking about her, the days that would follow her passing away, her funeral…
I know that seems so warped and I’m sure it is. Just like me actually looking back on her last day, the couple of hours when it was just us in her room- holding her hand, playing music, talking to her; how is it I can look back at that time and remember the worst hours of my life, her life, with such joy? See, I am warped.
But, if it were up to me, everyone that loved my Grandma would gather ‘round and spend hours sharing the memories we made with her. We would see my Grandma through the eyes of each other. We would say, “Thanks for the memories,” because they were so rich, so real.
Here is what I would say:
For the countless pieces of cornbread you fried on that old burnt griddle,
Thanks for the calories.
For the time when I was 4 or 5 and you introduced me to the police officer after my older cousin had me prank call his friends,
Thanks for the lesson.
For every Christmas that ended with a stocking stuffed in a huge bag, overflowing with 30 or 40 presents,
Thanks for making Christmas last.
For every holiday dinner prepared hours, even days, in advance,
Thanks for giving me something to live up to.
For the foresight and financial planning that allowed me to receive a college education, paid in full,
Thanks for helping me fulfill my dreams.
For the check that came the summer after I graduated college, when you gave me the freedom to blow it all in one place or use it to live off of for the rest of the summer,
Thanks for the swift kick into the real world.
For always asking about my teaching, my class, my students, my administrators,
Thanks for listening.
For treating me to lunches and dinners at your favorite restaurants with your favorite servers, with extra salt-rimmed Margaritas,
Thanks for picking up the tab every single time, except once when you let me treat you.
For never letting an opportunity pass to tell me how proud you were,
Thanks for the confidence.
For looking at me eye to eye in your last days of life, pleading, “Hold me, help me,”
Thanks for the trust.
For fighting one hell of a fight, showing me what true strength is,
Thanks for the example.
For the times you acknowledged my level of stress, responsibility, and hard work,
Thanks for understanding me, truly understanding me.
For every phone call, no matter how short, stopping and slowing down to say, “I love you,” like it was the last time I’d ever hear it,
Thanks for 33 years of the most endearing, unconditional “I love yous.”