Friday, November 18, 2011

P.S. ... I Love You

How does one condense a lifetime of memories into a fairly short document, especially when your heart is breaking? You just do the best you can and hope that it's adequate.

You quit your job when I was born so you could stay home and take care of me. You were the first person I saw when I woke up and the last person I saw before I went to sleep.

You chased me around the house when I ripped off my diaper and all my clothes so you could bathe and change me. Your legs were good then; you always managed to catch me.

When I pulled that pot of boiling tapioca onto my face, you grabbed me, wiped it out of my eyes so I wouldn't go blind, and then took care of me for three months while the burns healed and the skin peeled off my face like an orange. Because of you, I didn't scar or have hideous skin. You also kept all the neighborhood kids away from me so nobody would make fun of me.

You read to me every day, even though you hated reading, and taught me how to read for myself when I was three years old.

I slept with you until I was about 10 years old because I loved you so much.

When I got scarlet fever and was running a 105 temperature, you held me close, even though my body was like a space heater. You were also the one who plunged me into ice baths several times a day until the fever broke.

When Grandpa married that psycho who was always trying to kill me, you watched over me like a hawk and beat the shit out of her in our driveway.

You taught me how to steal grapes and other small fruits in the grocery store because "you have to taste before you buy".

We went everywhere together - the grocery store, the dime store, the bank - every day.

When Mike Madding pushed me down onto that broken bottle and it ripped my knee out, it was you who came to the principal's office to get me. You and Grandpa marched over to his house to bitch him out, and he apologized to me when I was able to go back to school.

You sewed all my dresses for school with matching bows for my hair. I hated them and longed for store-bought clothes, but now that I do all that stuff myself, I appreciate all the time and effort you put into them.

You always stayed awake when I was in high school and out with my friends and wouldn't go to sleep until I was safely home.

When I would come home drunk, you snuck me into bed so my mother wouldn't see me.

When I had my '55 Chevy and you were riding around with me one day, you were all jazzed when we saw my uncle at a stop light. When I gunned the engine and peeled out (it was a drag race, after all), you slid off the seat and wound up on the floor under the dashboard. You thought that was the funniest thing in the world - until we couldn't get you out.

When you got into your car accident and we came to the hospital to be with you, my cousin (who was an EMT) had already tended to you and took my daughter through the ambulance so we could talk to the doctor. I had a Camaro then, and you had an enormous cast on your leg. I managed to wedge you into the front seat, but I had to grab you around the middle to drag you out when we got home. You yelled at me the entire way in because I was crushing your ribs. Then, when I went to put you on the bedpan and you fell off, we both collapsed on the bed in peals of laughter.

You used to let me drive your Pinto before I even had a permit (since Grandpa had taught me how to drive his Cadillac when I was 10). We got into a bad accident and the Pinto looked like an accordion. We parked it out in front and hoped that Mom wouldn't see it. She did. We both took the heat.

When I was a freshman in high school and had to sew a dress for my final in Home Ec, you sewed it for me and let me pass it off as my own. You got an A on it.

You saw through all my teenaged lies, but never let on that you knew I was fulll of shit. I suspected you didn't believe me, but I pretended that you did. That arrangement worked out just fine.

When I snuck off to SFO with my boyfriend's mother to pick him up from a rafting trip he took, I told you I was going swimming over at my friend's house. She dropped me off at the corner, and I went to the drinking fountain, got my hair wet, and walked home. You picked me up by the neck with one hand and slammed me against the wall until I told you the truth. Then you got on the phone and yelled at Mike's mom for being a dipshit. I was horrified. You had called Mary Kay's house to see if I was really there while I was gone and found out I wasn't. That was the only lie you called me on because you had forbidden me to see Mike. I was 14.

You were the one I ran to with all my problems and listened, then held me close while I cried.

I picked yoiu up one day and stuffed you in the giant garbage can in the garage just to be funny, knowing that you couldn't get out without your stepstool (you were barely 5'0"). Then when I saw how mad you were, I ran out of the garage, leaving you there, until Mom came home from work and made me take you out. I was grounded for quite a while for that stunt.

You danced at my big formal wedding and cried when I left the reception.

I made you a picture quilt with pictures of all the family members who had passed, as well as wedding photos, baby pictures, and all the others which were so dear to you. I told you that you were being buried with it, and you had a fit. You thought the quilt should be passed down, but I was of the opinion that it was your quilt and nobody else's. I'm still of that opinion. You cried when you opened that gift and often sat in the room where it hung, gently touching all the pictures and crying for those who were gone.

You loved Hubster with a passion.

You loved Daisy and LIly with a passion.

You loved me most of all.

You were my friend, my confidante, my protector, the person I ran to before all others, the one who patched me up when I broke, the one who picked me up when I fell, the one who always stood up for me no matter what.

You gave me a lifetime of memories, some of which are just too painful to write down and too personal to share with anybody.

I wish I could have made the last four months better for you. But the strokes got more frequent and worse each time, and finally, you went blind and didn't recognize anybody except your Papa, who was waiting to take you over.

And take you over he did, yesterday morning at about 11:00. You were 93 years old. I wasn't there, but I wish I had been.

Now you're gone, and the realization that I'll never see you again is slowly setting in. As I type this and the tears begin to flow yet again, I'm dreading the next several days. You're being buried with Grandpa, which means that the crypt will be opened. I'll see his coffin and all the memories will flood back in. I can only hope that I pass out, because I don't think I can bear what's coming in the next day or two.

Rest in peace, Grandma. I loved you then, I love you now, and I'll love you always.

You're not here to fix me, even though I'm broken. I wish you were.

Love always,

Your adoring granddaughter.


Laura Neal said...

Ah Pam, I am so sorry for your loss. Just remember all the good times you had with her. I love you!

Joan In Reno said...

I am sorry to hear this. It is so hard to lose someone you love. I'll hold you in my thoughts. Hugs...
Joan In Reno

Syd said...

You were both so lucky to have each other for such a long time. She will still be watching over you Pam. But not having her physically present sucks. I am so sorry.

Vicki said...

Pam - I am so sorry for your loss. What great stories you have! Kow that you are in my thoughts - Vicki

Rabbitch said...

Oh Pam, I'm so, so sorry.

Jeanne said...

Pam, I'm so sorry for your loss. From the tales you told, I got a great picture of a feisty but small woman whom you loved dearly. You summed up her life magnificently. RIP to your Grandma.