Grandma & Grandpa

If you’re not up for a sad and somewhat morbid reflection, go read somebody else’s blog.

My Grandpa on my dad’s side died two years ago.  Not exactly two years ago, I can’t remember exactly what date it was, but it was during the last summer I lived in Cedar Falls, so about two years ago.  My Grandma on my dad’s side died in 1987, when I was five.  On Sunday, my sister Megan and I stopped at the cemetary to visit their grave.  It’s the first time I’ve been there since Grandpa died.  I don’t have a lot of experience with death, and sometimes it just gets me, out of the blue, you know?

One thing that bothered me the most on the day of Grandpa’s funeral was that we didn’t get to see the casket actually being lowered into the grave.  We said our prayers and then just left to go to the luncheon.  I didn’t know that you left the gravesite before the actual burial.  It bothered me because it didn’t quite seem real.  I didn’t get to see, for real, that he was buried and gone.  I asked my wonderful aunt Betty about it, and she said the funeral director and somebody who works for the cemetary take care of it after the family leaves.  I guess I don’t know what would be so traumatic about seeing the casket being lowered into the ground.  We already lost someone we loved, we prayed over his dead body numerous times over the course of the two days, we took him to the cemetary.  People always say “we buried” their grandpa or husband or wife or brother or sister.  But “we” didn’t even see it.  I guess I had it in my imagination that seeing the casket being lowered would be the end, the closure of it all.  So it’s just been hanging around the back of my mind for two years.

Well, when I went to the cemetary on Sunday, I could still see the outline of where the grass was newer over Grandpa’s grave.  I’m not sure “better” is the right word, but I at least felt the closure that I had been waiting for the day of his funeral.  It was sort of proof that somebody really did dig a hole and put him down there. 

I’m not afraid to die.  I know that God will be waiting for me.  I’m a little afraid of what might make me die…will it hurt?…but I’m not afraid of leaving this world.  But when somebody else dies, I get confused and scared because I don’t understand where they go.  I’m not supposed to understand, I get that.  But it’s pretty scary to me that the body that used to hold a person I love is empty now.  I want to know where that person went.  I can feel that they are still here, somewhere, but I don’t know if they hear me when I talk to them, and if they’re talking to me I can’t hear it.  And it’s weird because part of it is such a good feeling.  I can feel that they love me, and that they know I love them.  That’s a great feeling to have, especially when I’m missing them so much and can’t have them right here with me. 

I sometimes feel bad because my sisters don’t remember my Grandma and I do.  But I only knew her for the first five years of my life, it’s not like I knew her and had a relationship with her as a mature person.  What I remember is little snippets, like sitting on the floor beside her chair while she worked on a quilt.  Or her giving me a cookie in the kitchen.  I don’t remember what her voice sounded like, or if she made jokes when she talked, or if she hugged and kissed me when I left her house. 

But one thing I know–She’s in me.  I want to be like her.  I’m sure part of it is because my dad talks about her so much, and always has.  And part of it is because I just have that personality of wanting to honor my parents and grandparents with my life.  But the reason that I wanted to learn how to make knadel (ca-NAY-del, for you non-Germans out there) was that Grandma used to make it.  I wish I would have been old enough to learn it from her.  Of course, I wanted to make it for my dad, since he likes it so much and hasn’t had it for so many years.  But also, I want to teach my daughters how to make it and tell them that their great-grandmother made it.  She spent her life raising her children and grandchildren, loving them and taking care of them, making a warm home for them.  It would be so precious if I could do as well with my life as she did with hers.

Sometimes I just miss them, out of the blue, for no reason at all.  I still love them, and I can still feel them loving me.  But I can’t ask Grandma what I’m doing wrong when my knadel doesn’t stick together sometimes.  And I can’t sit in their living room and talk with my Grandpa about my life.  So I just miss them.

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