So, I'm sure part of the reason I'm thinking about my grandmother today is because my sister posted a few days ago that it was her birthday. But the flip side of that is that today is my birthday, which is the day that Grandma Carter passed away.
The resulting phone call from my mother that morning was one of those things that was so - I have no words, it was terrible, but also still makes me smile due to the odd mix of the call. She called in the morning to tell me that grandma had passed peacefully in her sleep very early in the morning and she knew I would be upset, but then she sort of sobbed out "Happy Birthday" and I think I meeped out a thank you. I still have no idea how one should respond to that. The rest of the day was quiet and a little shocked, it's not that I didn't expect it, but as we all know that jarring emptiness comes on fast - expected or not. I probably remember it clearly because it was so disjointed - cake was out of the question of course, I cannot imagine a round of Happy Birthday To You, not to mention what kind of wish you could make. So we had take out, my cousin Tim came over and Jackson insisted on sitting right next to him as he usually did (Tim has very dramatic Black Irish coloring with the black hair and very blue eyes - for some reason it fascinated Jackson to no end. It also made Tim hilariously uncomfortable as Jackson would stare and make all sort of comments as to how amazing he was, then he would be black and blue and red in the face from sheer embarrassment . We had a chocolate pie after dinner since the kids knew it was my birthday and we had to do something. It is still one of the strangest - and saddest days of my life.
But, you know what - every year on my birthday that does cross my mind. But then I start thinking about her - how many afternoons did we pass at her house playing forts in the living room and being Box Turtle Owners til dinner time when we had to let them go? Her teaching me to knit and bake, helping her clean out the closets and finding spice cans that were older than Methuselah - that we put back because you never know when you might need that. The long afternoons over tea gossiping about family members and long ago memories, Grandma correcting me on my family tree which she knew by heart and all the crazy family stories. She taught us all patience, kindness and that it's ok to listen to gossip (which is fun) but not to spread it. She gave all of us our drive, our work ethic - she ran a lumber yard in an era where other women stayed home - she's the one that gave me my hard core feminist slant and my independence. And now that I'm a grandmother if I can be the woman she was to me to my own granddaughters, I will be so proud of me.
So it was sad that she died on my birthday, it was sad that she died at all. But every year it guarantees that she will be in my thoughts and she will continue to guide me and the rest of us that knew her - to try to be all that she was.