Dear Grandma Betty,
I hope I can maintain an honest assessment of who you were, and not get too wrapped up in memories seen through the milky windowpanes of linear time’s narrow corridor.
You wore your heart on your sleeve. You told it the way you saw it and made no apologies. You were born on July 31st. You repeated yourself an awful lot, and passed that particular trait on to your son (my dad) and your grandson (me). You liked taking people out to lunch. And you liked to talk…….a lot.
I remember meeting you for the first time. The pine boughs were swaying in the wind and it was summer when you came to the little house with the wood stove in the Oregon countryside, where my mom and I lived for 4 years and I rode my bicycle to school. Your voice with its syrupy southern accent – and your spirited personality – seemed so huge to me that I thought I felt the house shake through the soles of my worn-out sneakers.
But the biggest parts of you were your heart and your stubbornness. I didn’t know anything about you yet back then, but I could see right away that you were ruled by your heart, because of the way you were so kind to my mom. I was protective of her, and so I watched, and I listened.
It must be nice to have set down your suitcase of earthly burdens, grandma, but I miss your stories. I miss your grouchiness, your laugh, the way you pronounced hurricane ‘herrican’. The way you always used southern colloquialisms like ‘he was mean as a snake’ or ‘that girl would argue with a fence post’.
Sometimes a weariness comes over me when I think of loved ones lost. There are so, so many. And yet in a way, they’re all still here, they’re all….close. So I’ll say to you what I’ve said to them all, in one way or another, over the years:
to all those I love, and have loved, on either side of the transcendental veil – may my love be a lantern to help light your way. And may yours help me light mine.