I'm Back ... Well, Most of Me.

When I left my house two weeks ago, I didn't really expect to be gone for that long. My grandma had sustained a pretty bad head injury and was hospitalized, but ... come on. It wasn't just any old, frail, cane-toting osteoporosis-having granny, it was my Grandma. The 85-year-old woman who, up until her fall, was push-mowing her yard and working like a pack mule from dawn until dusk. She had all her own teeth and didn't depend on any medication to keep her body in working order. Her mind was sharp, and aside from her sometimes-convoluted explanations of why certain people should be familiar to me ("You remember Esther Green, don't you? No? Beulah Wilkner's cousin, lived up there at College Mound in that yellow house next to Elmer Radley's second wife Sarah's uncle Vernie?") I always knew what she was talking about. Grandma was an octogenarian powerhouse ... so to think that she would consent to lie in a hospital bed for more than a day or two was unfathomable to me. Surely she - and I - would be home within the next 72 hours or so.

But when I saw her, I couldn't believe it was really her. Against the stark hospital-white sheets, anchored by an arsenal of tubes and monitors, she was silent and small and fragile. Her brown eyes weren't sparkling as usual behind her glasses, but hidden by closed eyelids. Her new haircut, that I had just convinced her to get on my visit a couple weeks before, was marred with a barren patch of stubble to accomodate the pump draining fluid from her brain.

And more than a week later, at her funeral, I still had trouble cross-referencing my mental picture of Grandma - vibrant, full of life - with the overly made-up old lady lying in the casket. This lady had painted fingernails; my Grandma had never painted hers that I could remember, because they would have gotten chipped while she gardened or cooked or canned or sewed or played with babies. This lady had lipstick and heavily caked foundation, which I realize were probably a necessity given the circumstances, but which my fresh-faced Grandma would have never worn.

It all happened so suddenly. I was supposed to be at her house on May 5th - the day after her accident. We were planning a family trip to Arkansas, her old homestead, just next month. And now ... she's gone. I can't call her up for a chat any more. I can't tease that she's a stubborn old bird or tell her, "Stay out of trouble, old woman" when I leave her house. I can't count on her freezer being stocked with Schwan's microwaveable brownies in anticipation of my visits. For the first time in my entire life, Grandma isn't there. I am officially out of living grandparents, and a part of me feels strangely orphaned.

As Grandma would want it, life must move painfully forward from this point - although mine will never, ever be the same without her. So I'm back to the motherhood grind. Back to my usual level of "clerty"-ness, and to uttering phrases such as "Well, if you hadn't been trying to put socks on the cat, this wouldn't have happened."
Rest in peace, Sibyl Inez Richardson Wolverton - more commonly known as "Grandma." You will be missed more than you could ever have imagined.

*If you're interested, I've uploaded a scrapbook entry from about seven years ago that I made in honor of Grandma. You can find it here (page one) and here (page two).


  1. Rita - I'm so sorry about your grandma. Times like these are never easy, but all you can do is hold on to the memories. She was a lucky woman to have such a loving granddaughter as yourself.

  2. I am SO sorry for your loss....for our loss...We will miss her! Hold onto those memories girl and pass on the stories and pictures to your boys so they will know how wonderful a great-grandma they had!

  3. Thanks Jenna and Cindy! I'm so fortunate to have learned a lot from her ... her best recipes, and some of her gardening tips ... and I'm going to be sure to pass those on so that her memory lives forever. :)

  4. Yes, Grandma left a legacy of strength, energy and caring for others that the rest of us can only hope to emulate. She truly left the world a better place!

  5. I am so sorry. My Grandma passed 15 years ago and I still miss her terribly. My heart goes out to you.

  6. Yes she will be truly missed!! I've been without any grandparents now for 5 (almost 6) years & it still is strange to me. Great pics of her!


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