May 4, 2012

Cardinal

In the wee hours of the morning yesterday, my grandmother died.

I've never read anything about death that adequately captured the range of emotion it encapsulated. It would be silly to think that on this morning I'd be the one to crack the code.

I can only tell you that my grandmother was a pretty special person. She taught me how to play gin rummy. She taught me that I liked radishes pulled straight from the ground. And peas. Though not from the ground because those would be weird peas. Her basement smelled amazing and I've not smelled another room like it since. She loved birds, including the male cardinal who flew into her kitchen window every morning. And flowers. She loved gardens and what they grew.

My grandmother was the very definition of stoic in the best, mid-western sense of the word. She took her life and death in stride. Perhaps the first and last time we talked about the possibility of her death - about three months ago - she told me, if the good lord decides to take me now, I'd be happy with the life I've had. I lived a long and good live. And I'd like to see your grandfather.

That, my friends, is all any of us can hope for.

The dead are always looking down on us, they say.
while we are putting on our shoes or making a sandwich,
they are looking down through the glass bottom boats of heaven
as they row themselves slowly through eternity.

They watch the tops of our heads moving below on earth,
and when we lie down in a field or on a couch,
drugged perhaps by the hum of a long afternoon,
they think we are looking back at them,
which makes them lift their oars and fall silent
and wait, like parents, for us to close our eyes.

- Billy Collins

Posted by Chris at May 4, 2012 7:50 AM
Comments

I'm sorry for your loss.

Posted by: Nancy A at May 4, 2012 7:57 AM

I'm sorry to hear about your grandmother Chris. My thoughts are with you and your family.

Posted by: Elizabeth at May 4, 2012 8:02 AM

So sorry for your loss. Sending happy thoughts, hugs, and prayers to your entire family. Beautiful tribute!

Posted by: Kristin at May 4, 2012 8:06 AM

So sorry to hear about your loss. May the happy memories heal your heart.

Posted by: DeLurking Di at May 4, 2012 8:22 AM

She sounds like an amazing woman and I'm sorry for your loss.

Posted by: Fauve at May 4, 2012 8:46 AM

So sorry for your loss, Chris. She sounded like a pretty awesome Grandma.

Posted by: cyndy at May 4, 2012 9:27 AM

Grandmothers are such wonderful, amazing people in our lives. I still think of mine and miss her every single day. My condolences to you.

Posted by: Julee at May 4, 2012 9:35 AM

I'm thinking of you and your family. This song is always a comfort to me.

To Everything By The Byrds

To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together

To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time of war, a time of peace
A time of love, a time of hate
A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing

To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time to love, a time to hate
A time of peace, I swear it's not too late!

Posted by: Maribeth at May 4, 2012 9:44 AM

I am sorry for your loss. More than anything, your post today reminded me to be ready. My grandmother isn't doing so hot right now and though I know it is coming, it's easy to put it off. And thanks for quoting Collins; he is one of my all-time favorite poets.

Posted by: Claire at May 4, 2012 10:12 AM

What a wonderful tribute. Hugs.

Posted by: Heather at May 4, 2012 10:30 AM

I am so sorry for your loss Chris.

Posted by: Kris Ho at May 4, 2012 10:49 AM

So, so sorry, Chris. My thoughts are with you and your family at this tough, tough time. *hugs*

Posted by: Kim at May 4, 2012 10:50 AM

Chris- so sorry to read that your grandmother passed away. From what you shared it sounds like you two got to share some special times together. Know that radishes, peas, cardinals and the spirit of your grandmother will ALWAYS be with you.
Sending you and your family comforting thoughts and much support. RIP Grandmother Cactus.

Posted by: Mutt at May 4, 2012 11:12 AM

Sorry to hear of your grandmother's passing, Chris. Sounds as if you have many wonderful memories of her, however.

I lost my last grandparent almost 12 years ago, the day before my son was born. I still miss her and wish I could share events with her.

Lovely sentiments by Mr. Collins - thanks for sharing them with us.

Posted by: Donna at May 4, 2012 11:16 AM

sorry to hear about your grandmother. I know she will be missed.

Posted by: jeanne at May 4, 2012 11:44 AM

I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my grandmother 12 years ago and I still think of her all the time.

Posted by: Laura at May 4, 2012 12:02 PM

My condolences to you and your family.

Posted by: NancyB at May 4, 2012 12:23 PM

sorry to hear. sorry for you, happy for her. hugs.

Posted by: kati at May 4, 2012 1:00 PM

Chris, I'm so sorry for your loss. Billy Collins writes such beautiful words. I pray comfort and peace for your family.

Posted by: Brooke at May 4, 2012 1:21 PM

I haven't stopped by in a while. I guess it's appropriate that I showed up today when you might need more virtual hugs than any other. Well, Chris. {{{HUGS}}}

Posted by: oakley at May 4, 2012 2:48 PM

I'm sorry for your loss. Grandmothers are wonderful and I'm glad you had so many years with yours. My thoughts are with you and your family.

Posted by: Carmen at May 4, 2012 5:32 PM

I feel for you and your family over the loss of your grandmother. Grandmothers are very special. Mine have been gone a long time.

Posted by: One Mom's Opinion at May 4, 2012 5:37 PM

I'm sorry for your loss, Chris. She sounds like a pretty special lady.

Posted by: Heather at May 4, 2012 6:04 PM

I'm so sorry for your loss, Chris. She sounds like a wonderful lady. I hope she and your grandfather are having a wonderful time together.

Posted by: Annie at May 4, 2012 11:44 PM

Huh. First? My condolences. Second, I hope that death, for her, was everything that she had hoped. I struggle with the concept. I lost my Nanny 2 years ago in April. She was such a huge part of my life. She had a strong, unwavering faith, and she was not afraid of what death would bring. I can only hope that my Pop, and my dad, were waiting for her.

I live in WV now. I lived here as a kid. I always said that if I had a chance to move back here, I would. In a moment. That chance was given to me, and I jumped on it. I am happier than I have ever been. I have been through hell and back in the last 3 years. Being here has grounded me in a way that I did not know was possible. Since being here, I have delved head first into genealogy and my family's past. I have discovered things that blow my mind. My entire paternal history stems from this very area. The tri-county area was heavily populated with my ancestors. I have found my great great great great grandparents, on both my dad's maternal and paternal sides...within 20 minutes of my house. I have found so many connections here that it just BLOWS my mind. I often joke that if you live in any of these 3 counties, well.. hey cousin! I feel like I BELONG here. I feel like I am being guided, in a sense, to find these things. It is amazing and wonderful, yet it leaves me incredibly sad that I cannot sit down with my Nanny or my daddy to talk about what I have found. As a kid, we lived across the street from a family that were SECOND/THIRD cousins of ours, and we never knew.

They say everything happens for a reason. And I believe that I was supposed to end up here. We are happier than ever. Life is good. I just wish that I could talk to my dad about it. I can only hope that he can see, from where ever he is, that I am here. And that I am THRILLED to be here. It is gorgeous. The people here are amazing. I am not sure why I felt compelled to tell you this..

I can only hope that my daddy, my nanny and pop etc. get a kick out of watching me make a tomato sammich from the tomatoes I pick from my garden. I can only hope that when I am at a grave of a long lost ancestor, that they are together, happy that I am there trying to bring the past to the present for my kid. I am glad that you had such a wonderful grandma. I know so many people that cannot tell you a single thing about their grandparents. Keeping you in my good thoughts Chris..

Posted by: Jen at May 5, 2012 12:31 AM

I'm sorry for your loss, Chris. Take care.

Posted by: Heather at May 5, 2012 1:37 AM

The generation of stoics amaze me. The most amazing thing is that they don't think they're particularly stoic.

You, sir, are someone who made her proud, someone who brought great-grandchildren into her life, and someone who cared enough to listen to her and learn from her.

Love to you four.

Posted by: alektra at May 5, 2012 3:53 AM

Very sorry to read this.

Posted by: Katherine at May 5, 2012 8:27 AM

I am so sorry for your loss.

Posted by: kali at May 5, 2012 2:06 PM

So sorry Chris - thoughts go out to you and your family.

Posted by: Sue R at May 7, 2012 8:33 AM

So sorry Chris - thoughts go out to you and your family.

Posted by: Sue R at May 7, 2012 8:33 AM

I'm sorry, Chris.

Posted by: Ann Adams at May 7, 2012 12:00 PM

I'm sorry to hear of your loss. May she live on in your memories.

Posted by: ironic1 at May 7, 2012 8:59 PM

I'm sorry for your loss.

Posted by: Fraulein N at May 8, 2012 9:29 AM


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