Today would’ve been my grandmother’s 85th birthday. If you’ve been following this blog, you may remember that she passed away in 2010. Rather than write about how I felt then, I’ll tell you something that made me feel better.
I’d been to back to my grandmother’s house only once since she passed away. Even then, I didn’t go in. Before that, I had no reason to because she lived in a nursing home for two years. My aunt, my granny’s oldest child, now lives in the house. A few weeks ago, I needed to pass some time before I went to church. My granny’s house is 10 minutes away. Mama suggested I stop by. I was hesitant not because I didn’t want to visit my aunt, but because I didn’t know how I’d feel walking into house whose original owner no longer existed.
I put on my Big Girl Undies and headed to South Memphis. My aunt lived there now, not Granny, and I’d been there once before. Then, I pulled up and sat in the car and cried. Almost a year later, how hard could it be?
The closer I got to the house with every corner I turned, every street I slowly drove down, small tears dropped on my shirt. I wasn’t sad, but I remembered picking her up every Sunday morning to take her to church. She would tell me to turn on specific streets, instead of the ones I was used to taking. I wasn’t sure if it was because she knew ways to miss traffic or the people who aimlessly wandered around the hood on early Sunday mornings or if she was just being bossy. I remembered helping her find her house keys, which she often misplaced because she put them in a different compartment in her purse every time. Together, we found one special spot for her keys so she could get into the house safely. I remembered stopping there before choir rehearsal on Thursday nights. I would take a nap or talk to her while she sat in her chair, eating candy and junk food.
I’d spent so much time remembering how we used to laugh and spend time when she was in the nursing home that I’d forgotten her life before that when things were normal. I miss her.
I walked into the house to find it totally different. Auntie had really fixed it up. Hardwood floors that had always been covered by emerald-green carpet shined and sparkled and all of her things were, instead of Granny’s. It was a completely new home.
It was yet another reminder that she, atleast her body, is really gone. That’s okay though.
When I left the house, walked down those few steps from the porch to the driveway, as I have so many, many times, I told my aunt goodbye, and she said, “Bye, baby.” She sounded JUST like Granny. I had to look back.
And that made my day because that was a sign that she’ll never really be gone as long as we have her in our hearts.
Happy birthday, girl! I celebrate your life through who you were, the family you created, instead of material things that represented you. I love you.