"You know what tomorrow is right?", my sister asked at the end of our phone conversation.
"It's Friday," I answered knowing full well what she meant.
"Brandi. It's been a year since..."
What I didn't let her finish saying was that it has been a year since our grandmother passed away. It has been a sometimes good, sometimes bad year. We were busy. We were broke. The kids kept growing. We kept on living. But I didn't have Gramma.
I wish that I could fully convey how much Gramma Ellene was loved by us and how much she loved us in return. Part of it was in her actions. I remember being very small and "helping" in one of her gardens. Helping usually meant that she tended to the garden and I dug in the dirt and played with worms. One time we were outside working for so long that she was just too tired to cook. So she opened one of her jars (as in she canned it herself) of corn and we ate that. Actually, I was too tired to even feed myself so she did it. She taught us to like vegetables. A penny a bite for anything we hadn't tried before and 5 pennies if we cleaned our plate. She kept a box of clothes that she collected from garage sales for us to play dress-up. She kept a toy room for the grandchildren, nieces, nephews and then the great grandchildren, great nieces and nephews. She took the time to teach me to crochet and sew and cook and make clocks. She read to us. She made us clothes. Before my mother went into rehab for alcohol addiction, she was my stability. As I recall, she was instrumental in getting Mom into the treatment center.
Even more than that (and all that is just a tiny bit) I knew that she not only loved me she accepted me as I was. I did not have to be anything special or prove that I was worthy of her love. I just was. I could make mistakes. I could make decisions that she didn't like. It didn't matter. She accepted who I was. That is not to say she wouldn't voice her disapproval, but she kept on loving you.
I loved my Gramma. I miss her terribly. I wish she was still here. But I've been grieving all year. I've had all year to wish I could share the quilt I finished with her. Or to tell her about her great grandson being selected for the honors classes after struggling to learn to read because of his dyslexia. I want to tell her how her great granddaughter that I named for her did in her track meet and that she is now taller than me. I want to tell her about all the little things that my kids are doing. I want to talk to her about my chickens. I especially want to hear her laugh and to hold her wrinkly hand and to smell the rose lotion she would sometimes wear. I want to hear her say "I love you, Brandi-girl."
We buried my sister-in-law last week. It occurred to me that I am at an age where funerals would become more frequent. Dying is the easy part. It's living on without the person you love that is tricky. So, I will do just that. I live in a way that Gramma would be proud. I will see her again. And Pa-paw. And Aunt Beverly. And Granny Ruth and Granddad Dink. And all those that will move on until it is my turn.