Saying goodbye to those you love is never an easy task. The process is made more difficult when you feel as though you were robbed of time you may have shared. Last week was spent saying goodbye to one of my favorite people in the world, my granny. She was all the things one would want in a grandmother, but she was more than that to me. She was a kindred spirit.
Granny taught me to love food. She shared her love and generosity through the food she made for others. It was never just a meal at her house. This was apparent to me from an early age. I would watch her cooking for hours and hours, and it was never a chore. When she was finished, a multitude of people would descend on the food and everybody was happy. I was in awe.
She had an open door policy. If anyone ever needed anything, she would do her best to make it happen. Many wayward people and children were adopted into our family through the years. Once you belonged, you belonged forever.
For as sweet and welcoming as granny was, she was also a tough lady. I suppose growing up in the Texas panhandle, tending fields of cotton probably would toughen anyone up. She told it like it was, and lord help you if you didn't agree! I loved this side of her, just as I loved her kindness and generosity. She commanded respect because she earned it.
Her death devastated my family. She was the glue that held everyone together. A true matriarch. When I received the phone call that she had been killed in a car accident, I could not believe it. She was supposed to live to be one hundred and still baking for masses of people! I don't think any of us could fathom that her death was caused by the recklessness of two men racing on the highway.
Last week was spent traveling down to Texas to be with my family and to say farewell. It was a crazy, exhausting, emotional ride. I was worried as we drove what it would feel like when we arrived. Granny's open arms would not be there to greet me after our long drive. I panicked about an hour outside of Amarillo. I knew I had to face the reality that this trip would change everything.
I was most worried about my pa. They celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary last month, and they were a matched set. I could not imagine one without the other. Watching him grieve my grandmother's untimely death was the hardest part of the whole experience. It felt so unnatural to see my grandfather so vulnerable and heartsick.
I know that life moves forward. I know we will all recover and lead our lives like granny would have wanted. I will carry my memories of her with me always. Sitting on her lap in her rocking chair, and later watching her rock my own boys. The way she smelled of sweet onions. The magical summers at the lake, going to Dairy Queen, and her retelling of the time that I covered everything in Vaseline twice in one day. I will think of her every day for the rest of my life. I feel honored to have known her, and that her influence helped shape the person I am today.