Thursday, March 4, 2010

Parting Words

Gram in 1948

In the summer of 1998, my funny, “pistol” of a grandmother, Gram Melva, got a cough. It rattled in her chest and she described it as feeling like something was “broken inside.” Two weeks later, she was diagnosed with cancer. When she heard her diagnosis, she was angry about her lifelong smoking habit. She wasn’t angry that she had ever started, she was angry that she had bothered to quit four years before. She missed her “smoky friends.” Within a month she was in intensive care.

The week Gram went into the hospital, was the same week that my first marriage was ending. I sat with Gram in the ICU and told her about the break up. We had divided our possessions. We were moving out of the house and I had found my own apartment. Gram listened and nodded. Soon she would be fitted with a tube that would help her breathe but would not allow her to speak.

She grabbed my arm and pulled me close. She was still able to talk but not above a whisper. I realized that this would likely be our last conversation, what she said next, would be her final words to me. I expected her to tell me that I would be okay, or that she was proud of me, or that she loved me. Instead, Gram said, “Get the china.” From my Gram, this was a perfect, funny, parting shot. She died a few days later.

I shared the story of her final words with my soon-to-be ex. He knew Gram well and he listened and laughed in the right places. Two days later, I returned home from work and sitting on the doorstep of my new apartment was his half of the dishes, carefully wrapped in newspaper and packed inside a large moving box.

I got the china. I miss her every day.

15 comments:

  1. brilliant. i hope she meets my gran 'upstairs'. they would get on too well :)

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  2. Your Gran is a pistol alright...my kinda girl!

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  3. Your Gram sounds like she was a bit of a firecracker, and I'll bet she would've loved reading this. I'm glad you got the china.

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  4. Very sad and Beautiful. Her and Bob would have got along like a house on fire, I think.

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  5. Sounds like a great sense of humor is a legacy for you. Glad you got the china.

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  6. I hate to use the hideous phrase LOL but I really did laugh out loud. What a fabulous-sounding woman.

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  7. I think I would have liked her. Fantastic story, beautiful picture. And a decent parting gesture from the ex, too. Thanks for the smile today.

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  8. Beautiful. Sad. Funny. I love your words.

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  9. Though your writing always gets to me, this one in particular touched me even more than usual. Absolutely beautiful. Your writing is just so exactly right, every bit of it, which I think comes from honesty and a good heart. I look so forward to your entries so thank you.

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  10. Nice gesture by your ex, though. Your grandmother sounds like a wonderful woman. One of the last things my grandmother said to me was, "Lisa, I just want to go to sleep.. ." She was with it to the end, but in so much pain from her heart just giving out. Dang I miss her.

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  11. Your grandma sounded like a very cool woman! I am so thankful for memories. So thankful...;-)))


    And...
    I didn't know you were married before? Who to?

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  12. Well, "Anonymous," I'm thinking you already know a lot more about me than I know about you...

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  13. melva was awesome. it clearly runs in the family.

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  14. Oh grandma Melva. It's funny how things can play out just right like that. Not often, of course, but sometimes just when we need them to.

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