For the first time in my life, I am having to cope with the death of someone I know. And not just that of a friend or a neighbor, but a relative. My grandmother passed away in her sleep last spring, right before I began my finals.
The day was already bad enough. I was stressed out about getting good grades in my classes, getting my living arrangements squared away and an innumerable amount of other things that creep up on you when you least expect them. I was on my way out when my dad called.
My dad is a friendly guy, so when I started talking to him, I thought it was going to be another conversation about how I needed to finish up my general education requirements and furnish my apartment. Suddenly and nonchalantly, my dad popped this on me: “Yeah, well, I just called to tell you that, uh, your grandmother passed away last night.”
Hundreds of emotions suddenly flashed through me. What? How? When? Was she in pain? She was my grandmother! Everything I ever felt about the woman came to the surface.
My dad and I talked about it for a while. My mom was crying too hard to come to the phone for more than a minute. I hung up and just sat by myself for a few hours.
This was my Gran’ma. She wasn’t supposed to die. She was a fixture in my family.
Ever since I was an infant, I’ve really only had two grandparents. My mother’s father died before I was born, and my grandfather on my dad’s side died just after I turned 1. I’ve only had my grandmothers as extensions of my family, and only Gran’ma Helen lived close to our house in San Jose.
As a kid, there’s a mystical quality about going to your grandmother’s house. I always remember going to Gran’ma Helen’s house for Christmas and Thanksgiving.
It was fun just to be there. As I grew up, I distanced myself from my grandmother. I was doing my thing, and she became less and less a part of my life.
It was only during the past two or three years that I began to realize just how crazy and cool my grandmother was. I have to admit that when she came over to our house for dinner for the first time, I was apprehensive. I didn’t want to listen to my parents and my grandmother talk, but once everyone got in on the conversation, it was awesome. My grandmother was a cantankerous, crazy old lady with a flair for life. I guess she just let it all out when she came to visit our house.
I know that my grandmother loved me unconditionally and unquestionably. Now I’m feeling a great deal of regret for not getting to know this marvelous woman better. I can look at pictures and talk to my mom about her all day, but I’ll never get a true sense of what a quality woman my grandmother was.
It’s still a weird sensation, knowing my grandmother is dead ? but at the same time, it’s gratifying that I got to meet a wonderful woman. I’ll miss you, Gran’ma.