I wrote this last spring following my grandma’s death. I didn’t share it outside my family until now. Her death is one of the reasons I started this project:
THE CALL WAS COMING, EXPECTED FOR AT LEAST A WEEK. AS I WAITED, UNSURE OF MY REACTION, I LIVED MY DAY-TO-DAY LIFE, NOT LETTING THE IMPENDING NEWS BOTHER ME.
It came on a Sunday afternoon. My father called, not twenty minutes after we hung up on a phone call to tell me my grandma was doing well, her breathing returning to normal after panting for days.
The phone call twenty minutes later was much more morose in subject matter. I was in the midst of talking with Michelle, the editor of the sports desk, to help make my colleagues and I better.
“I thought I might wait ’til later, but I just thought I’d let you know, grandma died at 12:08.”
That line will forever be cemented into my memory. I wrote down ’12:08′ in my notebook, retracing it several times as I stared blankly at it. I hung up, clapped my hands and proceeded in the planning. By the words I had sputtered out to my dad, Michelle figured out what the phone call was and asked if I was okay, but I must have been too stunned to notice, or care. I went through the day, despite the voices of many saying I could take the day off. Gave a motivational talk to my desk. Wrote one of my favorite centerpieces of my short career. And kicked out the first draft of a humor essay for my writing class.
The day was long, and twelve hours passed before I had time to reflect. As I settled into my bed, nestling under my comforter, it hit. Grandma was the first family member to pass while I was alive. It would be just my second funeral, almost two years after my first. My mind raced, trying to figure out what this meant. The few distinct memories I have of her ran through my brain. All of a sudden, my eyes began to tear. I wouldn’t have guessed that would happen. But there it was, realizing my grandma meant a lot to me. And that I’d never see her again. The pain I would feel was obvious, but I was painfully oblivious. My memory sent me back to the summer of 2000. We went to the flea market in Shipshawana and bought a bunch of baseball cards. That journey gave her a very deep insight into my life. From then on, she was one of the few people who understood what baseball, and the Chicago Cubs meant to me. Every time she saw me from then on, she made sure to be up-to-date on the Cubs. She understood the Cubs mean more than just baseball to me. And although it wasn’t clear to me while she was a part of my life, I’ll forever remember her and her passion for her family that she possessed.
I wasn’t as close as I could have been, or even should have been, with her. I didn’t know much about her life and it saddens me I didn’t take the time to learn about it. My life plan is to tell the stories of the people I meet in my life, yet until now, I’ve overlooked the people who have always been in my life. It saddens me to say it took this momentous event in my life to realize it.
My grandma lived an extraordinary life and the legacy of ‘Pat’ will live on with me. There’s now a special meaning to the extra effort and leadership I hold in my last semester at The State News. A lasting impression to know as much as I can about my family members.
It didn’t shake me externally. So many surprised how composed I kept myself, that I worked through my days off.
But it was a life-changing event internally.
I’ll miss you grandma.