Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The business of life.

I wonder how anyone can do it.

How can anyone sit down and chronicle the life of a 94 year old woman into a 2x2 inch column for the newspaper.

Someone can sit down with a little pad of paper and a pencil and write down the dates and times. Someone can make a list and count up all the grandchildren, the great grandchildren, and the great-great grandchildren. Someone can list the places she's lived, the child that she lost, the husband who died almost fourteen years ago to the day.

But who can say who she was when she was a little girl? Who knows her stories of how she felt as a young mother, a young bride? Who knows her secrets?

Who knows how much her family loved her? How do you capture what her voice sounded like when she laughed? How can you put into words what it meant, as a little child, sitting with her as she told you Bible stories..."working" side by side with her in the garden?

How when you were a little child, you needed your mother to come to your end of the year party at school, and your mother had already said she would go to your brother's end of the year party and they were on the same stupid day, so your grandmother came and sat in her little lawn chair and watched you. And no one else's grandmother came, just yours, but it didn't make you feel sad. It made you feel proud. Because she loved you enough to come.

How she was the one who sent you a card when you graduated college. And in her shaky, 92 year-old woman handwriting she wrote how proud she was of you.

And how she sent you a birthday card the next year and wrote that she hoped your "bee-hind" was feeling better, because you told her all about how you fell of your own front porch stairs and your entire ass was an amazing shade of purple.

How you developed your love of writing and reading, by watching her. How you labored over those letters you sent her when she was at her winter home in Florida. How, as a little girl, you looked forward so much to when she came home to her house next door to yours. How she would always bring you special things. A Florida t-shirt. Pecans. Georgia peaches.

How the very last time you saw her, you knew in your heart that it would be the very last time ever. How her shaky, frail little arms went around you. How she whispered in your ear, "Love you" as she tried to pat your hair.


There are so many things that just don't have words.



I'm left to wonder who I will be someday, to the newspaper. How it will feel when I am an old woman and my children are left to write the story of my life. I hope to God they know how much I love them. I hope they never, never know how painful the first years of their life were for me.

I can't tell them what an outsider I feel like in this world, most of the time. I can't tell them that if it were not for them? I know I might not even exist anymore.

How do you put any of that into words?

Or maybe you don't. Not really. Maybe that's why the newspaper gives you such a small column. Just a little square that can never encompass the bigness that is life.



Because you just can't, I suppose.

32 comments:

giants fan said...

that is so beautiful.


just so beautiful.

Tara said...

this is a lovely tribute to your grandma!

Lara said...

That's why a stranger does the 2x2 column, and leave those who love her to write the book. And this column was a beautiful beginning to the story. :)

Angie said...

I think you have found yet another vehicle for an article. .. or an essay. Although, I'd be inclined to publish it just as you wrote it.

Hauntingly beautiful, my friend.

J said...

I wish that I could write like you Chick. I think you are about the only person around who can make me cry before I have brushed my teeth or eaten my breakfast.

You and your grandmother had a special bond, and that is a beautiful thing. I had the same thing, and I miss it like crazy every single day. I know how hard this must be for you. Please know that if I could ever do anything to help that I would jump on the chance.

If you ever want to chat, I am here.

Tulip Girl said...

What an amazing tribute to your Grandmother. Thank you for sharing this with us.

prayingtodarwin said...

This was beautiful. I wasn't expecting to cry first thing in the morning, but here we are. The part that got me? The cards in the shaky old person handwriting. I've gotten those cards. The words always mean a lot, but what moves me is the fact that this frail, tired little person managed to pick out exactly the right card, come up with wonderful words, find a stamp, and get it all the way to the post office.

I'm gonna go call my grandma now. Thank you.

Jana said...

Girl, I've got shivers and tears in my eyes. Absolutely beautiful and so, so thought provoking... You are so right! My great grandmother is 90+ and I have never even thought of how she felt as a child, or young mom and bride. WOW... you are fantastic. ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC. I wish you knew what a treasure you are to this world.

Alpha Dude 1.5 said...

You can.

And you just did.

And you are amazing.

I am so glad you are my friend.

Blessings to you, Chick.

kristi said...

Fantastic.

I read an obit the other week and it was about 3 columns long. The mad who it was about was decorated military, but it talked in detail about his whole life. I thought that was pretty cool.

Anonymous said...

I think you just did...

ChloƩ said...

This is so very touching, you brought tears to my eyes!! Thank you!

Kiki said...

You are very lucky to have had someone in your life who was so important to you. Many of us never feel that. Your children are very lucky to have you.

Dawn~a~Bon said...

I'm really sorry for your loss, but I'm so happy that you and your grandmother had such a special bond.

Birth Sister Doula Services said...

My grandma left us 27 July 2003, and I miss her every day. Your tribute to your grandma was wonderful, and brought back so many memories of my own...

We grieve deeply because we love deeply.

Morgan said...

How beautiful chick, I wish I could write like that. I really do.

I am Trish Marie said...

I am thinking 2x2 is not near enough.

But that? Was wonderful.

kittyconcerto.com said...

honestly this was so beautiful. you are someone to be aspired to.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Hon, you are a writer extraordinaire. I want you to write my 2x2 column. Seriously.

What upsets me is the hyphen. "John Smith 1931 - 1998." That hyphen is your life. That hyphen includes the kids, the spouse(s), the loves, the losses, the joys and sorrows. Me? I want a headstone filled edge to edge with words.

This was a beautiful epitaph and a wonderful tribute to your grandma. Thanks.

Jenski said...

It may seem odd, but my grandmother had written her 2x2 with all those facts about survived relatives, etc. We figured she had put in what she wanted people to know.

Now your grandmother not only has that 2x2 column, but also this amazing tribute to the woman she was. It is clear that she was frequently a shining light in your life and that is wonderful.

Kimberly said...

You can't. And you're so wise to recognize the fact, and so amazing to put it into words as you have.

Amy W said...

What a great tribute....

Stephanie said...

You get me every time, just crying so hard right now. You make me feel your pain with you, that makes you a great writer. At least in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Can you send me an email so I can tell people that I know you? Because you ARE a great writer and one day you are going to be famous.
Karen in Texas
karen0801@aol.com

Wenderina said...

Chick - that was so beautiful and in tribute to your grandmother and in recognition of who you are and the writer that you have become I think you should consider reading some portion of this at her service. She will hear you and continue to be proud.

Captain Steve said...

I was going to make my lunch and pay bills and go to the library and now on top of all that, I have to go buy kleenex. I'm sorry about your Gramma, Chick. She sounds wonderful.

zakary said...

Sorry about your grandma. That's a lovely tribute to her.

The part about her being the only one that sent you a card when you graduated kills me.

Kat said...

The whole thing up to "There are so many things that just don't have words." would make a perrrrfect eulogy. Hope you'll share it with your family and people who knew her.

Soliloquy said...

Delurking to tell you how beautiful this is.

My 92 yr. old grandmother is failing. Each day is a gift. Many of my readers have delurked to share my pain.

What a lovely tribute. I love how your heart came out in this post.

Jonny's Mommy said...

I finally found it! If you ever see this comment, this was an awesome post. My grandmother passed at 93 in 2003. It was very hard on me. For a year I couldn't drive by the local hospital where she died -- like she was still there or something. The other day I drove by and thought about how life and death had happened in that hospital because three years later I had my son a few floors up from where she had died.

Rachael said...

What a beautiful post.

Lil Mouse said...

you have captured life in a standstill, in a whirlwind, in a capsule. and yet you realize as all of us do that it's not enough. but you will leave behind your blog, your books, your sense of humor. your kids will know what to write. it will be easy. and they wont have any idea that it was easy. they'll just do it and go on. because that's what you taught them.