My Grandma had a tradition when I was a kid: when we would visit her and Grandad, she would stand in the doorway as we all got in the car to leave, and flick the lightswitch on and off to say goodbye as we drove away. Oftentimes she would also make the shorthand “I love you” sign in ASL. I remember my sister and I would crane our necks to see the light flickering, and to see her smiling out at us.
I had another post all written out for today, about gardening; I wrote it last night, but didn’t post it, thinking I’d let it stew overnight for editing purposes. I’m glad I waited, because it would not have truly reflected what I’ve been feeling today.
Early this morning, my grandmother passed away.
The thing is, there’s no putting into words exactly how I feel about that, because every few minutes it feels like I’m rediscovering the news. My mind still geographically holds a place for Evolene Boyne.
It’s like my mind is split into two right now: the first part exists apart from language; it’s the part that feels, and acts on instinct — it’s made up of the familiar, dealing with impressions and not calculations. It’s the part of the mind that understands object permanence, but on a more spiritual level: just because you take something away doesn’t mean it’s not there. It’s always there and will always be there. And that part of my mind gets that, but maybe takes it too far. And then there’s the other part of my mind, the part that does know language, and understands but has to explain to that other part of me that object permanence doesn’t work for death. There’s a child and an adult inside of me, and the child thinks she’s going back to Massachusetts to see her grandmother, and the adult keeps having to remind her that she’s gone.
This will be the second time this month that I’m going back to Massachusetts. I just wish it didn’t have to be for the funeral.
I will always hold onto the memories I have of her: the piano lessons she gave me, and those couple of accordion lessons that never progressed into anything; getting lunch, whether it was at Friendly’s or Hearth ‘n’ Kettle or Giardino’s; acting like a typical grumpy teenager when she would pick me up from school; family dinners at the Yarmouth House. And the laughs we had — that time she called my cousin Stephen “hot”; laughing at her laughing at the man on Jeopardy; the time she found a piece of spinach behind her ear, and the time she had a brain fart during Scrabble and thought that “zip” and “zap” started with a “J”; that time she saw Angelina Jolie on TV and thought it was her.
She was the sweetest woman, and the best grandmother a kid could ask for. It was unbearable seeing her suffer in the hospital, but at least now she’s not suffering anymore. And I’m glad I got to see her once more before she went, and tell her I love her. If I had known, I would have switched the light on and off to say goodbye. I’m gonna miss you, Gma. I love you so much.