We are gradually losing my Grandma.
When I was a child, I identified with her more than anyone in my family. She had such power—I thought she could have chewed nails and spit bullets. She was loving, and affectionate, and fiery enough that no one ever wanted to make her mad. I don’t know that I gainsaid her on anything until I was into my twenties. Fierce in love, fierce in anger, she was both frightening and comforting. Grandma told me once that if anyone ever hurt me, she would have them killed; she said she knew people. I’ve never once doubted that she’d have done it. She had – has – a qucksilver temper and a passion for everything. She has owned every room she’s ever been in as long as I’ve known her. She, as much as anyone, taught me that everything is worth knowing and that everyone is worth something.
Grandma’s always had health problems. When I was very young, they were like quirks. It was another reason for her to rail at the world, another thing that she could fight off tooth and nail. I’d tell stories to my friends: Oh, Grandma Zeigler doesn’t have any feeling in her feet. She stepped on a nail at the fair once, drove it all the way into her foot, and didn’t know until she came home. She just pulled it out and went to the doctor, as if it was nothing. Gradually things got worse, but it was never really scary. Surely, no ailment could scare her. If anything, disease should be terrified of her, like everything else.
Grandma Zeigler has always been old to me, of course, as long as I can remember, but now she’s elderly. She’s gone from firecracker to frail, and someone who could have tackled the world now needs assistance to tackle the stairs. She is beautiful, and powerful, but also sad and frightened, and my world shakes.
She’s going to go away from me. I don’t know that it will be soon, but it will be sooner than later, and I won’t be prepared. I don’t know how the world could exist without her. She’s such a weight upon this planet that part of me is convinced it will just float away into the sky when she is gone. I love her deeply, but more than that she is a part of my identity. In her absence I don’t know who I will be.
I don’t see her enough. More than I used to, but less than I ought to. Less than I want to. In the moment, sometimes it’s hard to make the trip; it takes a whole day, and I often have other plans. I know, though, that I need to see her more often before those other choices become regrets. I do miss her when I don’t see her, but I know that’s barely a taste of what I’ll know when she’s not there to see.
I don’t want to eulogize her here, though. I just want to love her, and to record that love before it’s too late.
I love you, Grandma.