Dear Grandma and Grandpa,
It was good to visit with you yesterday.
To visit with all the grandmas and grandpas lying in the earth beneath their headstones…
Not a visit like in yesteryear, when we sat down at your houses and talked. When we told stories about our lives and you told stories about your lives. When we saw each other face-to-face and shared our thoughts and feelings.
No. It wasn’t like that at all yesterday.
I stood at your graves and remembered you. Remembered the beauty of you. Honored you. Told you the living had not forgotten you.
Grandpa Orton~~you left us first, back in 1988. Remember how you came to visit us that November with Mom and Dad and Grandma? Remember how you guys got the car stuck and you helped to push it up the slippery road? You were 78 years old. We laughed and laughed at you helping to push the car up the road. But Barry and I looked out on the driveway as you walked one afternoon. You were etched in black and white against a black and white landscape and we shivered. Something in us knew we would never see you again. And you were dead and buried within two months.
The night you died–at the very moment of your death–I suddenly threw down the book I was reading and began to talk to you in my mind. Your life went in fast-forward before my mind’s eye. Like a life-review, I remembered the plastic coin purse you gave us as children; the way you and Grandma would urge us to eat all our food “until you can see the rooster at the bottom of your bowl”. Then Dad called with the news. Grandpa had passed away at the exact moment the book hit the bedroom floor. Oh, Grandpa, how I loved and admired you.
Grandma Sheldon, it’s been a few years, hasn’t it? How are you doing now? We miss you. We miss your bright and cheerful laugh. I remember how you told me, as a child, to eat more. “You eat like a bird!” you would say. You made meals which filled the table high: roast turkey, baked beans, rutabaga, jello salads. Your country farmhouse was filled with smells of serious cooking. Remember how you taught us simple tunes on your piano? Thank you, Grandma, for the gifts you gave us.
Grandpa Sheldon, remember when the four of us–Barry and the kids and I–visited your winter house in Tampa? Remember how you made us rutabaga? You took us for a tour of your orange and grapefruit trees and we marveled to think you could pick fruit from your front lawn. You were such a kind grandpa. Thank you for everything, dear grandpa. I hope you rest in peace.
Grandma Orton, how I loved you! So many memories…remember when we visited your condominium and Christopher played his saxophone for you? You so patiently admired all the notes, but later we realized that might have been a bit challenging with your hearing aids. You came up to visit us so many times. Remember how you held Kiah on your lap? Remember all those visits to the Upper Peninsula and how you used to take us out for dinner? Remember the time you cleaned my frig and how mortified I was about it? Please come back and clean my refrigerator again, Grandma! Please come back and share yourself with us…
Thank you, dear grandparents, for the roots you provided for future generations. You gave the gift of yourselves to all of us. The gifts of your precious beings. We could never appreciate you enough at the time.
We do now.
Blessings to you, dear grandparents. Thank you for everything.