Someone commented the other day that they didn’t realize Granny had passed away.
“She did. Four years ago, on the 11th of March,” I replied.
“You still talk about her like she is still here,” they said.
It dawned on me that maybe I do.
And there’s times, believe me, that it feels like the old gal is still with me.
I told Mama it was as if she had been so much larger than life that her presence still lingered.
Mama agreed. “There’s days it doesn’t feel like she’s gone and some days, the void is all around,” she said.
That’s what it was.
She had filled such a huge part of my life, that now there was an emptiness.
Part of this gaping hole was due to my own stubbornness and grudge-holding the last few years she was alive.
“I do believe you were both equally to blame on that,” Mama said gently when I told her how I felt. “Granny was angry because you moved to the mountains and not home. She thought you were moving here. I thought you were moving here. And when you didn’t, she thought being angry was the best way to deal with it. You were her favorite person in the world.”
I didn’t feel that way when she passed away.
But growing up, she was my biggest fan and strongest ally, even when I feared her the most.
On Saturday mornings, she had been up for hours by the time I woke, cleaning and getting things done so we could go ‘loafing’ as she called it.
This just meant we went grocery shopping and to her mother’s house in Bold Springs, where the smell of fresh hay bales drifted through the house as I sat on the old metal sliding swing on the wrap around porch.
When I got older, Granny was often the one chauffeuring around an Oldsmobile full of teenage girls around, getting us pizza, burritos and junk food for low-budget horror movie binges.
She never complained.
If anything, she loved it.
She loved having a house full of laughter and squeals, no matter how late we stayed up.
If Mama was shushing us and telling us to go bed, Granny was the one sneaking down the hall to watch videos with us.
“I think Roger’s the cutest,” she would whisper as we watched Duran Duran videos.
“I like Nick,” I said.
She looked at me. “Of course you do, he’s got on the most makeup.”
After I got my driver’s license, Mama reneged on letting me drive her car.
“You promised!” I cried.
“I had no idea on God’s green earth you would pass!” was her reply.
In all teenage drama, I flung myself across my bed and cried.
Granny came in there to comfort me.
“You can take my car anytime you need to,” she said.
Granted, she didn’t know I put her car and our family friend who was teaching me how to drive in a ditch a few months earlier.
“I want my own car, Granny. I am just going to drive to school and home. That’s it.”
A few hours later, a car pulled down the driveway.
Granny and Pop had gone to town and bought me a beige ’77 Chevy Nova.
“I still have to pay for it,” Mama said as I squealed my thanks to my grandmother.
“I wouldn’t have got it if it hadn’t been for Granny,” I said.
“Darn right about that!” Mama replied.
Even though that car was far from perfect – she had to make me a cushion so I could see over the steering wheel – it was mine and my grandmother had made sure I got it.
During most of my teenage years, if it ticked my Mama off, Granny seemed to be the biggest supporter of it.
When I had Cole, she stayed with me for two weeks to help me figure out this whole motherhood thing.
The day she was leaving, I begged her to stay.
“Please, Granny, we have an extra bedroom. Please. I am not going to know what to do.”
“Oh, you’ve got it figured out,” she said simply. “You just needed to rest and get acclimated to having a baby.”
She made it sound like it was no big deal, but she had helped a lot. She cooked breakfast every morning and did laundry and swept. Keep in mind, she was 83 at the time.
Of course, she had called everyone, including the church to make sure no one had usurped her throne as president of her Sunday school class to announce she was seeing after her great-grandson for two weeks.
“Y’all put that in the bulletin,” she ordered over the phone. “Don’t y’all even think of moving any of the chairs around in the Sunday school room. I mean it. But y’all make sure everyone knows I’ve got a great-grandson.”
I was telling Mama all of this the other day.
“She was proud of him. She was proud of you,” Mama said.
“She never told me that,” I said.
“She didn’t have to tell you, Kitten. She told everyone else.”
Granny, the little redhaired girl out of a slew of children, had spent all of her life, wanting to be special to someone. She wanted to be the best at something and to have recognition, like we all do. But she had never really got that from her own mother. So, sometimes, her methods of getting that recognition may not have been the best way to go about it. But she had tried to give me the very things she didn’t have, the best way she could.
“I hope when I am gone one day, you will remember everything I have done for you,” she said one day, so many years ago.
And I do. Every single bit of it, I do.