She

She has been gone now for nine and a half years.  I remember the day she died.

Really she–the strong woman I knew–was gone years before that.  It started as forgetting to turn the oven on to make Sunday dinner.  She died because her body finally forgot how to live.

She missed a lot.  She was gone just months before the first grandchild got married, and years before getting any great grandchildren.

I was twenty-two when she left.  I hadn’t graduated from college yet (I would be the second of her grandchildren to do so, and the first and only to get my Masters six years later).

She never met my husband.

Not in this world anyway.  I am sure his dad talks him up though.

I have a feeling she met my son…before I did.

And she is taking care of my other two children until I get to them…and to her.

If I could have one more day with her?  In my mind, this is how it would go…

————————————————————————————-

As I pull into the driveway, I hear the crunch of the broken cement as I pull my car up to the garage.

It’s a bright fall day.  The oak tree in the front yard is a bright orange color and the leaves have already started to fall.  I remember helping rake those leaves and picking up sticks and climbing that tree when I was little and less cautious.

I don’t go in the front door.  Nobody does.  I push through the old wooden door (that always sticks) and in through the garage.  It smells like moth balls in here.  even though to this day I have never seen what a moth ball looks like.

The door into the house is familiar.  I have gone through this door millions of times. If it’s dark, I go quickly so that I don’t have to look down the stairs to the scary basement.

Once inside I pause before opening the door to the kitchen.  I know what will greet me.  I know she is in there because I can hear her through the door.  She is chatting to herself and sort of singing at the same time.

She is expecting me.  She can see I am there through her kitchen window.

It’s been a long time since I have been greeted by her.  She loves her family and welcomes each of us warmly each time we come over.  Today is no different.

She calls me by my full name.  My given first name, not the shortened version the rest of the people in my life refer to me as, and my middle name.  She is the only person on earth who calls me this.  I have missed hearing her say it.

She hugs me–one of my only relatives that I don’t feel awkward about hugging.  She is soft and squishy.  In my memory she is the same height that I am just softer all over.  Her skin is soft, her body is full and soft, her hair is soft salt and pepper colored.

I know when I leave here I will smell like her.

She starts bustling about the kitchen and I sit down at the familiar kitchen table. The table where so many Sunday dinners have been shared.  The table with the lace, doily-like table cloth.  The table that is old and wiggley and creaking.  The table where I have eaten pancake breakfasts on Sunday mornings after a sleepover.

She asks if I want coffee or otherwise I can grab a pop from the downstairs fridge.  I tell her if she has cream or milk, I will have a cup of coffee.

This makes her smile.  She has never known me as a coffee drinker.

She brings over two steaming cups of coffee and an array of treats that she apologizes for.  She is always apologizing for not having enough even though she always has more than enough.

I look out the front picture window and the oak tree.  I have missed sitting here.

She is chattering away–her topics don’t necessarily connect, and she assumes that everyone she talks about I know.  And then it’s my turn.

She wants to know what has happened in the past nine years.

So I tell her.  We spend hours talking.  She wants to know everything about not just my little family but my brothers and my cousins.

And she tells me about my other little ones.  The ones I haven’t met.  She tells me about my father-in-law.  She tells me about camp fires and yodeling and dune climbing…just like I remember it.

After hours of talking and pots of coffee, it’s time to go.  This gift of an afternoon is over.

I hug her.  She kisses my cheek.  She is the only one I have ever done this with in my family.  She tells me she loves me and calls me by my full name again.

As I walk to my car, she walks with me, still talking.  Even as I pull out of the driveway, she wanders down waving and chatting to herself.

I know this is it.  Until the other side, that is.  So I smile.  I call out to her that I love her one more time.

Because you really can’t say that enough.

This post is lovingly dedicated to my maternal grandmother, Grandma Jo.  I am who I am greatly in part to her influence in my life.  I miss you, Grandma.  You would *love* what has become of your family.

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About ksluiter

Just a small town girl...wait no, that is a Journey song. Although I do live in a small town. I am a wife, a mother, a teacher, and a writer. We have joys and we have struggles. Just like you.
This entry was posted in memories from being a kid, missing a you and a me, moms don't die, nonfiction, out of my control, Red Dress Club, together, we are supposed to remember. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to She

  1. hisbell says:

    Beautiful…. grandmothers seem to always mark their territory in our heart. I loved your piece… but I felt like you were holding something back… how did it make you feel? Were any feelings rustled up from your meeting?

    • ksluiter says:

      I was holding back. very perceptive. it was a tough piece to hammer out on the ole keyboard. LOTS of feelings were rustled up from the meeting. I think it was a start. A start to something. maybe?

  2. CDG says:

    That was so beautiful.

    I don’t often cry over blog posts…

    Thank you for the good memory tears.

  3. Carrie says:

    When I read the prompts I was so tempted to write about my maternal grandmother. But I remembered the last post I did about her and the tears and the difficulty and I just wasn’t willing to put myself through that this week…

    Thank you for a wonderful tribute that manage to stir so many familiar feelings. I think our grandma’s are possibly chatting over coffee together 🙂

  4. Nichole says:

    Katie, this is such a lovely tribute to your grandmother.

    I love the line, “I know when I leave here I will smell like her.”
    My grandmothers each smell uniquely wonderful.

    And I love that you drank coffee with her, not soda. Like a little gift to her…

    I would have loved to hear more here… “She is soft and squishy. In my memory she is the same height that I am just softer all over. Her skin is soft, her body is full and soft, her hair is soft salt and pepper colored.” Tell me more about her softness…

    So absolutely beautiful, Katie. Just like you.

    • ksluiter says:

      this might be where I go with my nanowrimo…use my grandma as the basis for my main character. Obviously I didn’t know her when she was young, but I can imagine from what I have learned about her and the pictures I’ve seen.

      She has been on my mind a lot lately.

      Maybe that is for a reason.

      Thank you, Nichole.

  5. Hand me the tissues! I need to write one of these about my grandmother.
    I love that you included the almost inconsequentials “her topics don’t necessarily connect.” So true, and yet its something we don’t always mention.

  6. I still smell my grandmother from time to time, caught in the scent of a freshly laundered sheet or piece of clothing. It is the best smell in the world (yes, even better then babies). I absolutely love your last line.

  7. Jessica Anne says:

    So lovely. I love the images of her chattering to herself. And I really love that you aren’t doing all the talking and updating, that she has some things to share with you too.

  8. souldipper says:

    I have no memories of a grandmother – one died before I was born and another lived too far away. So thanks for giving me a little time to feel like a granddaughter.

    • ksluiter says:

      you are very welcome. being a granddaughter is a wonderful feeling and my heart is filled with joy that i could bring that to you through this little blog and the words I write on it.

  9. I love the part about the garage smelling like mothballs altho you’ve never seen one and going quickly thru the door so you don’t have to see the basement.

    My grandmothers were squishy, too.

    Thank you for sharing..

  10. jeff nagelkirk says:

    That’s so sweety Katie it made me tear a little

    • Katie says:

      Isn’t it crazy how it’s all still there. It’s all still the same in our mind. It’s like that time with her is frozen in time. When I get to heaven? I think it will be like walking into Grandma Jo’s house.

  11. Pingback: For the Love…Of Blogging: Writing Wednesday « Sluiter Nation

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