Wednesday, October 20, 2010

For Grandma.

I wrote most of this a couple years ago, but never felt compelled to post it.  I was waiting for the perfect opportunity and that opportunity came today when I found out that my beloved Grandmother - the one that had been there for me my entire life - has less than 48 hours to live.  This post is for you, Grandma.

Grandma was adamant. "Not one of those fish are coming through this door until they are gutted and cleansed!"

The mountain summer light folded over a haze of Rocky Mountain Lodgepole Pines.  My four friends and I had spent the entire day with rubber boots up to our hips, standing in the middle of a river that sprouted from a spring.  A river clear enough to drink from.

My friends and I had just graduated high school and my Grandparents had graciously allowed us to spend a weekend at their cabin in Island Park, Idaho.  The only catch?  They would be there the entire time, ensuring none of our teenage shenanigans would end up burning their beloved cabin to the ground.

"You boys need to wash those rainbows out in the trees.  I don't want any scales clogging up my sink."

Some boys like pulling guts out of fish.  Some don't.  I didn't.  Ben did.

Ben was a good, hearty chap with long, curly hair and a stoic chin that bore a slight resemblance to Bono.  Beyond his handsome physical features, he was overly polite and respectful of his elders.  My Grandma took to him immediately.  In fact, it was only a couple years ago that she stopped asking, "How is that Ben boy you used to friend, Abe?"

"Fine Grandma.  He is married now." I would reply.

And so it was that Ben volunteered to stand out in pitch dark with an ice-cold hose in hand and pull the innards out of the approximate 26 rainbow trout that we had caught that day. 

My Grandmother, being concerned for Ben's welfare, watched his every move from the cabin's kitchen window while the four remaining boys conjugated around the table for a cold Coke and a quick game of cards. 

Idaho Rocky Mountain nights have a blackness that overpowers you.  It's a little like stepping into pure nothingness, except that there is also the off chance that a bear might kill you.   To combat the pure darkness of the forest, my Grandparents had installed a spotlight on the porch that was triggered by a motion detector.  The sensor on the light would detect motion and would turn on for exactly two minutes.

Ben had decided to clean our fish about five feet out of the sensor's range.  My Grandmother nervously watched and paced from the window.

For the next 45 minutes, my friends and I watched in absolute amazement as every two minutes, when the light would turn out on Ben, Grandma would open the screen door, walk onto the porch and wave her arms frantically at the light until it turned back on.

Grandma would then come in and stand at the window, pretend to wash dishes and wait for the light to turn off again.  She followed the same routine 22 times in 45 minutes.

But here's the thing: Grandma may have a slight crush on Ben, but she would have done the same for any of my friends that were staying at her cabin that weekend. That is just what kind of person she was.  She was benevolent and altruistic.  She knew how to help and take care of people and if it meant going out into the cold forest every two minutes and frantically wave her arms around like she was an MC Hammer backup dancer, that is what she did.

I love my Grandma.  She has had a profound influence on who I am today.

I will miss going to her house and reteaching her how to delete the male enhancement spam from her account for the 1648th time... and laughing with her when she tells me to keep the Olive Garden reservation buzzer out of my pocket because "it might turn you on, Abe"... and playing Balderdash with her; laughing at her outrageous answers until tears pour down my face.

She is going to a better place now.  I imagine her in heaven's version of my fondest memories:  Driving through Yellowstone, offering her parents a nickel for every buffalo they spot. Sitting with Grandpa hand-in-hand, overlooking Old Faithful and eating ice cream like they were 16 again. She is laughing now; laughing with her sweetheart about how silly life is and what a wonderful one they led.

I will always love you Grandma.  Please give Grandpa a hug for me.

79 comments:

Tammy said...

I love your grandma too Abe! I'm so sorry to hear she's not going to be around much longer but I'm sure she's very excited to be with your grandpa again. I loved him too. You have such a wonderful family!

Miley (woman:confused) said...

Abe, that is the sweetest tribute I have ever read.
I'm sorry that your Grandma will no longer be with you but I am glad there is comfort in her going to a better place, and with Grandpa.
It sounds like she and I would have hit it off really well (except I would be the one making sure that light turned back on haha)
Your grandma sounds absolutely fantastic

Rachel said...

I hope someone writes something this perfect about me when I'm gone.

I feel like I met her and got hugged by her.

Thanks and sorry for your loss. But I think you lucked out as far as Grandmas go :)

Nancee said...

Beautiful, Abe. And even though I don't know your grandparents, I love Island Park, too, and I can picture what you describe as though I'd been there. Much love to you & your family.

Kelley said...

You absolutely made me cry...and laugh, but mostly cry. I wish you weren't going to lose your grandmother. That is so painful. It sounds like you really had some wonderful times with her. She sounds like a fun, amazing, caring woman. You are reminding me of my sweet grandmother who will be 86 next month. I need to hug her tighter when I see her next. I think I sometimes act as if she will live forever, but I know that isn't true...for any of us. Thank you for sharing your grandmother with us.

Kate said...

That was fantastic. I feel like I know just who she is. Bless her and bless you and bless all of you who love her.

And please pass the Kleenex.

jennifer said...

This is one of the most precious things that I have read in a long time. Though I am sad for your loss, I can't help but be glad that you had such a wonderful woman in your life and thankful that you will be reunited with her one day.

Hugs and prayers Abe.

Pat Tillett said...

I'm sorry to hear about your impending loss. You wrote an amazing tribute to what sounds like an amazing lady!

Your beautiful writing also reminded me of how much I miss my granny...

Cruella Collett said...

I'm so sorry to hear your grandma is sick - from the wonderful description you just gave of her, she sounds like a truly special lady. It is painful to lose loved ones no matter what, but at least you are able to remember her by these happy memories.

Confessions of a Closet Hoarder but you can call me Judy said...

I'm so sorry but so happy for you that you had such a special gramma.

Rita/Fighting Off Frumpy said...

It's so hard to say goodbye ... especially when you know beforehand that you have to. I wish you peace and strength to get through the next 48 hours and beyond. I lost my grandma a year ago, and it's gradually getting easier, but I still miss her so much it physically hurts sometimes.

Hang in there, Abe.

Mamma has spoken said...

That was a wonderful tribute to your grandmother. I think you brought tears to her eyes in heaven.

Kelly said...

My thoughts are with you and your family. That was a great tribute.

Joe Cap said...

She sounds like a wonderful person, and you have great memories. Catching that many trout? Awesome.
At also sounds like this was a beautiful place to be, especially the dark nights, which would have made great star-gazing.

Copyboy said...

Sorry to hear about your grandma. She does sound like an incredible lady. Per usual your post gave us amazing insight. BTW...i love your verbal gems ... stepping into pure nothingness.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That is a wonderful tribute to your grandmother.

The Invisible Seductress said...

This is so beautifully written, I feel the loss with you. Hugs to you and your family. Knowing that you were so blessed to have someone so special in your life is sometimes the greatest blessing of all. Some take things like that for granted and miss the small moments that could have changed their lives. You are a wonderful person.

Jenn said...

What a beautiful post Abe! I'm so sorry to hear that your grandma will no longer be with you. I remember the loss of my grandma hit me pretty hard...loosing those that have touched our lives is never easy. What a wonderful tribute you have given her!

Marion Williams-Bennett said...

So much love here!

You are a beautiful tribute to your Grandmother.

Peace to you all.

Linda said...

I miss my grandma. She was 98 1/2 when she died in 1984. Thanks for your post about your grandma. It is wonderful for kids to know their grandmas. I hope my grandkids will know and remember me.

Eva Gallant said...

That was sweet and beautiful, all at the same time! You're lucky to have had your Grandma in your life!

Gigi said...

Back reading blogs after a hiatus...I'm sorry to be greeted with the news of your Grandma. This was such a lovely and well written story, Abe. I hope you'll get to see your grandma sometime in the next 48 hours before she moves on from this world. prayers and thoughts to you and your family.

Just SO said...

She sounds like a truly wonderful grandmother. I'm sure that she and your grandpa are holding hands and looking down on you right now.

Lee said...

What a wonderful tribute to your Grandma. Brought tears to my eyes! I hope I can someday be a 'Gramma' to some grandchildren and make them treasure me as much!

Amanda said...

I miss my grandmothers too -- I wish peace for all your family.

What a marvelous tribute.

unmitigated me said...

So sorry, Abe. She sounds like a wonderful Grandma, and you're not so bad yourself.

-stephanie- said...

What a sweet woman. How lucky you are to have her as a grandma.
I pray her home-going is a peaceful one.

The Mom @ Babes in Hairland said...

What a sweet tribute to your Grandma. She sounds like an amazing woman. Now I know you can be serious too! :-) I wish my grandma's had been able to live long enough to see me married & my kids born - so I'm jealous of you for that. As sad as it is, it's still a comforting thought to know your Grandpa is waiting for her there on the other side sharing a joyous reunion. Thanks for sharing this with everyone.

Aunt of 14 said...

This is really touching, Abe. You're lucky to have known your grandparents this well. I'm sorry for your loss!

Oilfield Trash said...

That is an awesome story.

00dozo said...

A truly wonderful tribute to a very kind hearted soul. She is blessed.

Kristina P. said...

I have no doubt she will treasure this. I am thinking of you and your family.

Holly Ruggiero said...

So kind and so beautiful. I know this is a tough time. Peace.

Missy said...

This is a great post about your Grandmother! I pray your Grandmother has a peaceful end to this life. Prayer for you all.

MiMi said...

What a beautiful post, Abe. Truly. I imagine she will be in heaven every night, waving her arms frantically at the moon to get it to light up.
I'll say a prayer for you and yours today.

Sadako said...

Aww. Grandma sounds awesome. This is a great tribute, and I'm sorry about your Grandmother not having much longer.

Lisa Loo said...

dang it---this subject has been too close to my heart lately. I wish you and your Grandma the peace and courage you will both need to take the next step on this journey.
I loved your story, thanx for sharing...

Noelle said...

What a great tribute! Thanks for this...and for the tears that have come with reading this. Grandparents...no matter whose...always make me cry.

baygirl32 said...

what a wonderful post to your granmother. Sorry for your news

Lindsay said...

That's a beautiful post. Sorry for your heartache.

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, and here you've made me a weepy mess at my desk! I love your grandma, too Abe! In fact I'd venture to say grandma's are the best people on the planet (I know mine was). And I also know that DARK you are talking about. I was once a licensed guide on the Salmon River in Idaho--you get THAT FAR from civilization, with no light pollution at all, and night is DARK.

tammy said...

It's so hard to lose Grandparents. I'm so sorry.

Marlene said...

what a beautiful tribute. I actually have a tear forming. So sweet...and so sad.

M-Cat said...

I love your Grandma and I love this tribute! You really had me right there at the cabin watching her flail her arms around.

Sorry to hear that she'll be passing soon, or as we like to call it around my place - graduating!

Pearl said...

Ah, Cheese, you brought tears to my eyes.

I think my Grandma was cut from the same cloth as yours. Their passing is truly a loss, but we were both damn lucky to have known them -- and to have been loved by them.

You have my heartfelt condolence, my friend.

Pearl

Mighty M said...

Thinking of you and your family!

Marnie said...

I am so sorry about your Grandmother. What a wonderful lady. I loved my Grandmothers too. I got a serious lump in my throat reading this.

All the very best to you Abe. Big hugs xo

Diane J. said...

Your grandmother sounds like a wonderful, caring woman who is full-of-life. I wish her peace on her journey to meet up with your grandfather.

I'm sure her love will continue on within your hearts.

Sending prayers to you and your family.

Janelle said...

Great tribute to your Grandma! I can just picture her out there like an MC Hammer back up dancer! There's something so beautiful, loving, and (if youre lucky) commical about Grandmas and the memories they leave you with.
So sorry for you and your family. But just keep picturing her there with Grandpa and know she's in a better place.

Pat said...

A beautiful tribute for a beautiful lady!

Connie said...

So sorry about your loss. Grandmas are pretty special, if I do say so myself.

Beautifully written, your grandma sounds like a wonderful woman. I hope all goes well with the funeral arrangements and you get to have some good family time.

Kristen said...

WELL SAID. She'll be so proud! Do be careful of the reservation buzzer and my Grandma and yours may meet up to play Balderdash, but mine will say, Why did you say that, because the concept was lost on her..... Take Care!

Unknown Mami said...

I'm so sorry. She sounds wonderful and you are a pretty wonderful grandson.

MBGITWWR said...

May your grief be lightened by the grace and love in which your grandmother lived. I will say an honest prayer for you and your family in this sad hour. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

W.C.Camp said...

I guess we now know where you get your humor!! Sorry about your Grandma - I lost mine last November. Never easy but a perfect time to remember and rejoice in a life lived well. Wishing you the best as my thoughts are with you. W.C.C.

The Church Lady said...

Abe - what a wonderful tribute to your grandma. I hope she lived a long full life. Both of my grandmas have passed on. I miss them both, but I do have many fond memories just as you do of your grandma. She will certainly be going to a better place.

Cherie said...

She sounds like a wonderful lady. I am so sorry for your loss.
I lost my Grandma about a year ago and even though she had lived a long life and was ready to go, and we knew she was going it was still hard.
Grandma's are priceless - Good thing we get to have them for eternity!!
I can tell your Grandma is the kind of person who is still smiling and watching over everyone!
God Bless

Joan said...

Sounds like you got the best of Grandma. You will miss her. I'm sorry, but so glad you got so much from her.

Sam said...

This really is beautiful and I got such a vivid picture of your Grandmother in my mind when I read it-I feel as though I met her. I'm so sorry for you to lose someone that you are so close with. Wow this brought tears to my eyes.

RaShelle said...

She sounds like an amazing woman. Thanks for sharing a part of her. Loved the story. =D

Leeuna said...

A beautiful tribute to a wonderful lady, Abe. I'm so sorry for your loss -- but it will be Heaven's gain. You will be in my prayers.

Powdered Toast Man said...

That was sweet. Grandmas are the best, especially the ones that like to play board games. I play upwords with my grandma. Balderdash is an awesome game too. I am very creative in that game.

Silver Strands said...

The pictures in my head are so vivid afTer reading that ... What sweet ememories you must have!

lindsey v said...

You are so lucky to have been so close with your grandma. I bet she just loved all you kids.

Daphne A. Quist said...

What a sweet grandma!! I'm so sorry to hear you'll have to put more memories on pause for a while. She sounds adorable! Sorry to hear.

mintifresh said...

What a sweet tribute. Very nicely written.

Chris said...

It's wonderful that you remember her in this way. Very touching, even the MC Hammer reference.

Melinda said...

She must be a spunky woman! I love what she would tell you about the Olive Garden buzzer. I laughed for about 5 minutes! I'm sorry to hear about your loss, but happy to know you are comforted in knowing she can be in a better place and with your grandpa again.

Allyson & Jere said...

Sorry to hear about your Grandma, that is always hard to let those you love go. On the other hand, this was a beautifully written post. She sounds like such a fun, and obviously great woman. Thanks for sharing this little "slice" with us.

Pedaling said...

Very nice.

Dawn (Bee and Rose) said...

What a beautiful tribute to a lovely soul...Sending you prayers and hugs...My husband lost his grandmother Friday evening...Grandmothers are one of the best gifts that God gave us:) (Especially when they watch over us even as adults...) She sounds like an amazing spirited woman. What a blessing to have shared so many wonderful times with her:)

Lene said...

That was beautiful. She sounds like an amazing woman.

RawknRobynsGoneBlogWild said...

This is precious, Abe. I'm back, and checking out your blog first. It's nice to get to know your grandma a bit. I thank her for passing her humor and compassion down to you. You are keeping her spirit alive and with us, without even trying.
Blessings,
xoRobyn

Baby Sister said...

That's a beautiful tribute. I'm glad to know she's with your Grandpa again.

tiburon said...

I am sorry to hear about your Grandma. And that is one amazing tribute to her.

Joann Mannix said...

Abe, that was beautiful, so heartfelt and moving. I saw how absolutely lovely your grandma was through your words.

I am sorry that light is gone from your life. But she's still with you, you know.

And maybe this isn't appropriate to say right here, but this quiet beautiful side of your writing pleasantly surprised me. You truly have a writer's soul.

Emmy said...

What a beautiful tribute. She sounds completely amazing. Thank goodness for the plan of salvation.

imbeingheldhostage said...

Beautifully written, tear-jerking Abe--she sounds perfect. My prayers are with you and your family.

Marla said...

Ahh Abe ~ I am so sorry to hear about your grandma. What a sweet tribute. I hope my grands feel this way about me someday. You are in our thoughts and prayers and will be throughout the holidays. You're a good man...I mean, CheeseBoy.