Day #321: Happy Birthday

I’m writing this a little early because I have traveling to do this weekend, but my heart is already heavy.  May 21st is my grandmother’s birthday.  I’ve been trying desperately not to write about her, but I just can’t help it.  She was so special and I miss her so much.  I feel so off kilter these days and I wonder how much of it is because of her.  I keep saying I need to remember to call and wish her a happy birthday.  It doesn’t seem real that she won’t be there to answer the phone.  My travels are actually taking me near Tennessee so I’d been toying with the idea of visiting her grave.  As her birthday gets closer that seems more and more like what I need to do.  Maybe I can finally let her rest if I spend some time at the cemetery.

I guess everyone deals with loss differently.  I’ve never lost anyone so close before.  Although she was my last living (biological) grandparent, there was something different about her.  When I was a kid, she was the one who cared for us when my parents needed to get my brother and me out of the house.  Sometimes my brother would visit cousins, but I always needed to be with my grandmother.  I was her “Princess Bright Eyes” and I loved hearing her call me that.  Oh what I wouldn’t give to hear her say that now!  Whenever we would have big family gatherings, I was always the one who volunteered to drive her to the festivities once she decided she no longer wanted to fly.  The family always teased me to be sure that I took good care of our ‘precious cargo’ and I never disappointed.  We drove from Memphis to Cincinnati, Cincinnati to Washington D.C., Memphis to Baton Rouge and Baton Rouge to Austin.  They were fantastic times.  On our drives and other visits she entrusted me with all of our family stories.  I became the family historian and guardian of our history.  Realizing how sacred the stories were, I committed them to paper and presented her with them on her 90th birthday.  It took me months and several road trips to complete, but it was well worth it.  It was the least that I could do to show her that I was listening.  On her 85th birthday, I made her a quilt.  It had a patch for every one of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren (at the time) and included their names and dates of birth.  I even put pictures on it.  She is in every picture either alone or with a member of her family.  I think it took me nearly two years to make but she loved it and I was so pleased.  She had it hung on the wall of her apartment and showed it off to everyone who entered.  That was the one thing of hers that I wanted to keep for myself.  A few weeks ago when I was feeling low, I rolled it out on the floor.  It still smelled like her apartment.  I collapsed into a puddle of tears looking at all of the pictures and remembering all of our moments together.  I miss her so!

The only good thing in all of this is that I know that she knew how special she was to me.  I saw her once a month or more in the last months of her life.  Sometimes the visits were brief but I think they were just what we both needed.  I guess in that sense I have no regrets.  I honored her in life just as much as I miss her now that she is gone.  I was looking at my sad little garden the other day thinking about how she would be all over my case for letting Good Friday pass without planting.  However, I just can’t seem to get it done.  If I can’t call her to tell her what I planted it just doesn’t feel like as much fun anymore.  Maybe I just haven’t grieved properly.  I’ve tried to be so stoic and take care of business and just haven’t had the time to let my emotions out.  Maybe I can do that when I pay her a visit.  Maybe that will ease the pain.  I suppose it’s worth a try.

When I write off-topic like this, I always feel like I hear my classmate in my ear asking what this has to do with personal finance.  Maybe it doesn’t.  I don’t know.  Maybe it does.  What it is about is honoring those who are important in the little ways that matter.  That may be your most important investment.  For me and my grandmother it was the visits, capturing the stories and just enjoying each other’s company.  I imagine that May 21st will be a tough day for a lot of folks in my family.  She was the matriarch that held us up and held us together.  She was feisty and strong and reminded us that we are too.  Between the work stuff, I will spend her birthday cherishing her memory and thanking her for all of the gifts that she gave me.  I’m not sure if her investment in me paid off as well as she had hoped but I know that I am stronger because of her.

Happy Birthday Grandma!


Princess Bright Eyes

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