From Aldous Huxley's Island, brought to my attention by the wise Ram Dass.
A year and a half ago, I told you how my family had lost a very special person and that when I was able to collect my words, I would tell you about her. That person was my Nan, my dear soul sister grandmother. Three weeks ago, her strong and handsome sweetheart left us to join her. My words have come back to me, washing ashore on waves and ripples of sadness and calm and love.
Nan & Grampy were my grandparents. They cared for us when our parents worked, let us run through the sprinkler in their backyard and always welcomed us to crawl into their laps when we were scared.
One time, I don't know how old I was, Grampy offered to make us a plate of nachos. Rather than lightly sprinkling a bit of cheese on top, he placed a thick slice of cheddar squarely on each and every chip. My jaw dropped and my eyes lit up. At that moment, as I would see in many moments to come, I knew that we were cut of the same cloth. Years later, I remember a night that Nan called to laugh about the latest political gossip- this one involving a Senatorial candidate's steamy centerfold- and we easily laughed and chatted for over an hour, like we were girlfriends rather than women two generations apart.
Nan & Grampy were parents to six children, grandparents to nine of us and co-workers, friends and confidantes to many more. Their lives couldn't have been easy. I know that. But if Chris & I should be blessed with a fraction of the love and support and companionship that they shared with each other and with their family, then I will consider us supremely lucky. Sometimes I like to tell myself that we have the same ways about us that Nan & Grampy did. I'll pace around and wring my hands with worry until my husband gently reminds me that whatever the problem is, that it will work itself out. That I needn't fuss so much. I sometimes find myself telling stories and taking up all of the air space in a room and then I catch a glimpse of him, quietly listening and smiling and silently reminding me to breathe and to allow space to creep in. He fixes things for me and together we listen to the radio and work ourselves up into heated one-sided political debates, both of us cheering each other on against the absent opposition.
Nan left us to join her parents, sister, brother and daughter on the day of her sixty-third wedding anniversary in September 2011. Grampy stayed with us a little bit longer, in order that we could continue to soak in more of his ever-deepening wisdom and his opinions on the ways of the world. We talked about national politics, about Hurricane Katrina, about neighborhood development and about things I still don't understand. We shared recipes and news articles. Sometimes my schedule felt too busy and I didn't visit as much as I should have or wanted to. I hemmed his pants, like I did for Nan, because we were all given short legs at birth but made up for that with a healthy dose of spunk and can-do spirit. I miss Nan, of course, but have been surprised to feel how present she is in my life. She is here, still. A few weeks ago, Grampy metaphorically brushed his hands off, tired and callused from a life well-lived, took a final breath and they were together again.