Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Saying Good Bye from Afar

It’s odd to me that I sit here writing about the death of my grandmother, Frances Carr. Or Fran as I called her well more than half of my life. You see my grandfather had that bad habit of finding things I said or did as funny, and with the absence of a poker face, when I called my grandmother “Fran” once as a joke, it stuck. And for as long as I’ve endearingly called my grandmother “Fran”, she’s been prepping me for this day. In all honesty, probably even longer.

Growing up we lived with my grandparents twice. Once when our home was being built when I was in the fourth grade, and once when we were in between homes when I was a teenager. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents growing up. When she would fold towels she would call me in the room to teach me how to do so properly. If I protested even a little; “when I’m dead you’ll say my grandmother taught me the right way to do things!” Like so many women of the Greatest Generation, she stayed home to take care of her family, but that didn’t mean she lacked intelligence. When it came to numbers, and how to financially run a household, do your taxes, Fran was the one to go to. I can’t tell you how many times she tried to teach me how to budget, bought me a notebook for such a scenario, and until I was married, she handled my taxes. It was futile to explain to her that my brain sees numbers as a foreign language, she didn’t want to hear it-I could do it. (One of the few things she was wrong about in life-I still see numbers and have mild meltdowns!) 

She would frequently “inventory”, for lack of a better word the items in her house, “don’t put this in a yard sale” or “I bought this when your Grandfather came home from the war” and of course her jewelry; “This goes to Lenore, this one to Melanie, this one to you.” And God forbid if I tried to get out of this morbid conversation. She would tell me I need to know.

When she was diagnosed with breast cancer over twenty years ago, she didn’t want me to know when she was having surgery as I had a trip planned to NYC. She wanted me to carry on with what I had planned. After her mastectomy she got the biggest kick out of reminding us that she had “a boob” which is what she called the prosthesis she would use.

When I moved out of the house, she and my grandfather sent supplies on an almost weekly basis. When my car was broken and I had moved home and had classes to get to, they would drive me to class-both campuses were across the state from one another, but they didn't care.

When my son was born and I found myself recovering from a C-Section, it was Fran who came over every day to make sure I ate, could get up and down the stairs, and to offer company because it was apparent I was in way over my head as a new mom!

As a college graduate, even though I was in my thirties and not a traditional student, Fran attended the very long ceremony to witness me cross that stage. She couldn’t wait for me to find a job as a teacher.  And this morning, when I opened Facebook, it was of course the first post that jumped out at me as a featured memory on "see your memories."

Fran has been with me for all the milestones of my life, and even the days that on the surface didn’t appear to have anything special attached to them. Those "regular" days of course had the love and admiration of my grandmother attached to them.  

Today, I won’t be there today to help say ‘goodbye’ to her. I’m trying to ensure this isn’t something I dwell on as I’ll always regret as this isn’t my choice.  As I have missed many milestones these last few years due to matters outside of my control, I'm going to do my best to not dwell on that recent past, but rather the memories I was able to have until that time.  I’ll spend the day doing what I know she would tell me to do; I’ll teach my classes, I’ll carry on. At the time of her service this morning, I’ll say a prayer.  I'll remember the good times, I have a lifetime of those to choose from.

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