Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Lilies and Roses (RIP)
"Take care of yourself, Jennifer. I love you. Hopefully I will see you again someday after I go to my forever home."
Those were the last words my maternal grandmother said to me. She passed away Sunday evening. She was 88 years old.
I will forever be haunted by the image of her frail little body shifting uncomfortably and undecidedly on her makeshift bed in the living room of my uncle's house.
Eighty-eight years of fine lines and wrinkles caressed her body like a delicate, never-ending spiderweb. Her once shiny eyes were shadowed with anticipation for the end to come. Terrified of death and desperate to go, all at the same time. But the light didn't come quickly.
It broke my heart.
That is not how I want to remember her.
I want to remember her as the chubby bubbly grandma who laughed sweetly at my jokes and smiled serenely from her rocking chair.
I want to remember her sparkling eyes staring at me from a dusty black and white photograph discovered in the edges of an old photo album.
I came across the hidden treasure ten years ago when I was going through my mom's things in the attic.
I was instantly mesmerized by the beaming teenage girl sprawled in a field of light-colored flowers and weeds. It was 1937. Grandma was 16--the same age as me back then.
She was beautiful, vivacious, and bursting with youth. Her smile was familiar. It would be painted on the faces of her daughters, granddaughters, and great-granddaughters within the next seven decades.
More than a dozen of her lovely smiles are now sprinkled across the United States. Not a bad contribution to society.
I hesitantly handed that photograph back to my mother. It was a reality check for me, to see the girl within the elderly woman. Since then, it was always hard for me to swallow that my little ol' grandma had once been a bright-eyed doll. It was even harder for me to put the two together while seeing her curled up so helplessly, gaunt and pale, this past weekend.
Grandma was lucky enough to pass away surrounded by her family and provided with the best comfort money can't buy: love.
Somewhere in that place called heaven I hope she is finally peaceful again.
And every time I hear her name, I will remember that teenage girl lounging in the grass, smiling playfully, life dancing in her eyes.