I apologize again for not writing in so long. The last couple of weeks have been extremely difficult and the culmination is today. This afternoon, I will be saying goodbye to someone that will forever be special to me and will remain a piece of me for the remainder of my days. Today I say goodbye to my grandmother.
The last couple of days, as do many people, have been a tidal wave of memories and reminiscing about what kind of person she was or what her lasting legacy will be. In the end, the only thing we leave behind is who we were and what we’ve done. When I think about my grandmother, there is one word that stands above all…love.
My grandmother loved her grandchildren like no other. We were all the sparkle in her eye. She loved all of her “youngins”. And still, my grandmother was the matriarch she needed to be. She spoiled us immensely, yet she made sure we all stayed on the right path. I can’t count how many times that woman threatened to “snatch a knot on my head” or “whoop my butt”, and all the same I can’t count the number of times I’ve been wrapped up in her arms getting those little pecking kisses on the forehead hearing “your grandmommy loves you so much”. She was everything we ever needed, wanted, or could ask for in a grandmother. I remember the sense of excitement I used to get when taking that drive down to the little town of Campton, Kentucky and remember the billowing excitement as I started recognizing the little triggering places in town knowing we were minutes away from seeing her and my grandfather, waiting at the door for us to run up and wrap our arms around them. What I wouldn’t give for that moment just once more.
My grandmother loved her children so much. Over the years, our family has had it’s share of ups and downs, good times and bad times. Yet the foundation was always my grandma. She instilled in her children the importance of family and what being a family really means. Being a family meant pulling through the challenging times as much as relishing in the wonderful times. Nothing meant more to her than having us all together huddled around that kitchen table while her sons and daughters shared all the gossip around that bustling metropolis of Campton. But more important than anything is how she instilled in her children the need to be there for each other. When times have gotten tough and we need to be there for each other, we are. Sure, we disagree and fight at times, but it’s part of being a family. It’s what you do when it matters that counts. I’ve watched the way my family has pulled together over the last several weeks to take care of making my grandma’s last days as comforting as they could be and it filled me with joy knowing that this is what while my grandma would have been so mad for everyone making such a fuss over her, she would have been elated seeing them all together helping each other, comforting each other, and picking each other up when they needed it most of all.
And when I think about my grandmother’s love, it would be a travesty to not remember her biggest love of all. I think what has made the last several weeks so much more difficult is in many ways I feel I am reliving the pain of losing my grandfather again. It has always been hard to think of either one and not have the image of both in mind. I have never seen two people more in love. Now, those of us who knew them have without a doubt had the privilege of witnessing the comical bickerings that comprised the “Cord and Vernie” show, where my grandmother would typically let out a “Cord, I’m gonna sock you in the nose if you don’t just shoosh!”, and my grandfather would retort with “Ehhhhh, Vernie…now don’t you start commencing on me!” before putting those hands in his pockets to jingle some change, doing that adorable shuffle down the hallway, then falling over in his chair with a gaping mouth staring at the ceiling in almost instantaneous slumber. We’ve laughed till we cried at these comic musings, yet none of us ever saw a love like theirs. I remember the anguish in my grandmother’s face when he died. A part of her went with him, there is no doubt. They meant everything to each other, and filled each others live with smiles and laughter.
The next several months are bound to be challenging. Memories will wash over me and my whole family for the rest of our lives. We’ll remember watching soap operas while grandma knits what seems like enough slippers to cover ever foot on the continent. We’ll remember the fried chicken, the mashed potatoes, and the fried apple pies. We’ll remember getting home from that Kentucky trip to find a wad of money stuffed in our pockets that granny had hid there the night before because she knew my parents would never accept it from them. So many things that would make me cry if I didn’t have so much to smile about. I will miss my “mah-maw” like no other person. She makes me who I am and a better person. She makes our family a better family. I miss you. And I love you. And as I write this, I smile because in my head I hear that familiar response she always left me with…”and I love you more”.
Night night, mah-maw.
Dedicated to the loving memory of Verna Bach
March 25, 1917 – March 5, 2012