This post has nothing in common with anything I’ve ever posted before, but after (probably) several years since the last time I’ve remembered it, I didn’t want to forget it. I’m going to write it down.
The wonderful woman who I knew as “Grandmother Peggy” (as we Kentuckians so solidly named our grandmothers “Grandmother xxxx”) was a woman I still can’t put my finger on. She seemed passive with only a hint (and I mean that I may even be imaging this) of mischeviousness. She loved all animals (especially if they had fur), was highly uncomfortable around firearms, took care of me when I was sick and my parents couldn’t get me, and was one of the best cooks I’ve ever known (I’ve got an amazing story about her apple pies). She used to tell me to “brush those teefies” and “wash your pawpaws” and would call windows “winders” and pillows “pillers” in the vernacular of my origin. She put up with the blatant orneriness of my grandfather and would at best give him a mean glance to silence him but which never worked as he would make some kind of snarky comment.
Grandmother Peggy died eleven years ago this past April. Over some incomplete understanding/communication of the dire need of medication, one drug used to counterbalance another was left unobtained. Her leukemia (acute hemophilia, actually) didn’t kill, but an onslaught of congestive heart failure and probably more things than I know (or could understand) led to her demise. Among all of the amazing memories of my grandmother lay those horrible memories of one nasty week. So, I plan to share the amazing one.
A diligent searcher can find her obituary online. She never surfed the internet or held a smartphone; no picture or video of her is available online.
One of My Favorite Memories
As a boy–I thought I was a man at the time–I went hunting with my dad. Although he was tough as nails (still is) I was not (nor am I yet!). In November of 1990 or 1991, I would have arisen early with my dad to get in the deer stands that sat next to each other to wait for daybreak. I shivered and froze and finally one morning (probably the second Saturday of the season) had enough. I climbed out of the tree stand wearing enough clothing for any three individuals and waddled back through the woods to my grandparents’ home.
I recall thinking that she didn’t see me but laugh, now, remembering that I would have been wearing hunter orange. For those of you who do not know this shape of obtrusive orange, one cannot miss it. In retrospect, she was probably elated expecting that I’d be spending the entire morning with her. We went inside her house (my dad and grandfather would have still been in the woods) and I peeled off layer after layer of clothing to finally reveal some pants and shirts underneath that I could wear around during the morning. I remember sitting on their pine wood furniture, eating Honey Grams, drinking white grape juice (by the cupfuls), and watching some cartoon about macaroons being stolen (The Great Macaroon Caper didn’t net any excellent search results.).
Not ever really remembering it before, I remember sitting closely to my grandmother on the couch. Not snuggling, just sitting closely. Now this is only odd in that I don’t remember her being overly affectionate. This memory is still the one from which I remember how she felt to the touch. It’s the memory that I have of “us”. Of all the hours I had probably spent at her home, in the car with her, with her at my house, I don’t remember many of them being just us.
Not long thereafter, she redecorated. Completely. Couches moved, new dining room tables came, and that house was never quite the same. That last change is the one which is still visible in the home. My grandfather lives there, but it is still her house. He only maintains it even though she has gone on to her reward. I know the space is the same in which we shared that wonderful memory, but now it doesn’t feel the same.
Crazy, I know, to write this down. But, it’s my favorite. I’ve got others and they’re good. But this is the best of her.
This story by no means contains the whole of her. Her selflessness was incredible. Her love was immense. Her sacrifice was great. I look forward to seeing her again, introducing my wife to her, and getting her to meet my kids (and maybe even grandkids).