Great Grandmother

My grandmother passed away last week.  This is sad news, heartbreaking news, news I absolutely did not want to hear. I’ve spent the time since jostling all the grieving thoughts and emotions into a sort of loosely formed troop that I could order about and dispatch onto useful projects.  I got lots of raking done.  Not much else.  And guess what?  The leaves keep falling.  The rake-fall-rake cycle is a reflection of how I’m feeling.  Also, it’s fall.  So it’s not a surprise really.

My grandmother was about as in tune with nature as I can imagine and certainly more than the rest of the family.  She lived in Arizona and knew when it would rain by the smell in the air.  Most Arizonans figure this out pretty quickly – wet desert isn’t easy to hide – but as a child who had no idea what damp cactus and crispy air turned soggy smelled like, I thought she was a superhero.  She grew tomatoes out of burnt earth and coaxed tortoises into the yard to keep company with roadrunners and javelinas.  She broke off bits of aloe plants to smooth over my scrapes and made dark purple jam of prickly pear fruit.  She was the governess of my imagination, building me a library of American Indian myths and origin tales, telling stories about paloverde trees and teaching me to search for hatched quail eggs.  She smelled like dust and wind.  She spent an inordinate amount of time gazing at the mountains looming up behind her home.  She and my grandfather ate breakfast and watched the sun cast shadows one way and then watched them fall the other way over supper.  Although they never had dessert, she pointed out the formation on the mountain called “the candy jar” every chance she got.  I was little enough to find that a terrible insult.

I am deeply disappointed that RR won’t be meeting this resolute, earthy and wise woman.  In her sudden absence, it’s hard not to compare myself to her and remember what she had that I can’t pass on.  On the other hand, as each day goes by, I notice that the things she did and the person she was have a greater staying power than that of anyone else I’ve known.  It’s almost as if with her passing she left her secrets tucked in my pocket.

My daughter wouldn’t have remembered her, even if she had met her.  But I would have remembered them meeting. Thank goodness for imagination.


3 Responses

  1. I’m so very sorry for your loss! She sounds like an amazing woman.

  2. I’m sorry for your loss. 😦

  3. I’m so sorry. (I’m also sorry I got caught up in everything around here and that this is, therefore, a very belated condolence.)

    Your grandmother sounds like an incredible person, and even if RR never met her, at least she’ll benefit from your grandmother’s influence on you. And that’s something. I am down to one grandparent at this point, and while I don’t have any particular reason to think she won’t live to see our baby born, I’m not certain that she still knows who her children are, let alone grandchildren. But I know I’ll tell our children stories about her, and stories that she told me, and while that’s not ideal, it’s not nothing, either. RR is lucky to be getting from you what you learned from your grandmother.

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