My paternal grandparents, my Granny Dee and Paw-Paw died within eight days of each other. Paw-Paw was just ready, as his body had become frail and diseased. My Granny-Dee had Alzheimer’s disease. The preacher who did her funeral said it wouldn’t be heaven if they weren’t together.
It was the first – and perhaps only – time I have seen my father cry and seem a little undone. At dinner the day before Granny Dee’s funeral, he told me how losing his parents, for him, was such a mortality check.
We go through our youth believing we will never die. We do lots of reckless things because hey, we’re invincible. That feeling wanes as we age, sure, but when we lose our parents our own mortality slams right up against you with that thud that says, “Hey, babe … you’re next.”
I am blessed to have both my parents still alive. Many of my friends are not so blessed.
Mrs. High Commander laid her beautiful mother, Sarabelle Inman, to rest last week. She had lived a long 88 productive years filled with a career, four children, many grandchildren and even some great-grandchildren. She went to heaven to meet her beloved husband Fred, because, well, it just wouldn’t be heaven if they weren’t together.
And now, Mrs. High Commander has had to face that mortality thing and I am certain it is not easy. I think it is part of the grieving process.
So many of my friends who are my age or older have lost one or both of their parents and I can only imagine what that must feel like. I am both a mama’s and a daddy’s girl and I dread the day I have to figure out how to fill the hole that the loss of either of them will cause. I weep for Mrs. H.C. because there is nothing anyone or anything can do to aid in that healing. Time has to do that.
I had a very special relationship with my maternal grandfather and would be so audacious as to claim I was his favorite. When he died in 1982, I thought I would never stop crying or hurting from his death. But miraculously I did and I don’t know precisely when I did but I know now that it is my glee-filled memories of my time with him that have replaced my grief. I can laugh about his quirky ways and funny sayings now and feel none of the pain that wracked me when he died. I love how that has happened.
All this to say that my compatriots and I now have to face the loss of our parents, and those who we love as parents, to simple old age. Yes, to lose these dear ones to disease, as many of us do, is horrible, but we are also losing them to the vagaries of time. Time, that thing that we can neither slow nor speed.
But we can appreciate it. We can spend it wisely in the company of those we love. We can avoid wasting it hating and being angry about the small stuff – and it’s all small stuff. Our time is precious and we don’t get do overs in this life.
So, to my sweet Carol, I love you “hunny” and am so sorry for your loss. It will get easier, I promise.
To the rest of you, thanks for letting me wax on a little here. Sometimes, when my own heart is heavy, this column provides a safe space to unload it. I appreciate that more than you know.
And if you see Mrs. High Commander, give her a hug.
Her heart is hurting – for now.