In memory of Grammy.
My Grammy was the most amazing person I have ever met in my life and I’m not sure I’ll ever have the opportunity to meet anyone quite like her again. Unfortunately, as I grew up with a narcissist, an abuser, a terrorist rather. He did what textbook abusers/narcissists/terrorists do. He isolated me from everyone and specifically, my biological father and his parents. Isolated me for 14 years and when I finally got out at 20 years old and started my life, free, she passed away before I even got the chance to see her again. We were just getting to know each other again. She lived across the country and I was in college at the time so all of our communication in the beginning were via phone calls and Skype. I could tell it was awkward for them at first, they didn’t know who I had grown up to be. Having had all communication taken from us for so long, they had grieved the loss of me years ago and had expected the worst knowing what I was living with. It was okay though, I understood and I gave them time.
When we’d have our Skype sessions, I could tell my Grammy wasn’t well but she had too much pride to show it. She’d get all dressed up and portray the Grammy I knew years ago. It was sweet. Months into our newly kindled relationship we were starting to plan my first trip across the country to visit. Not even 2 weeks later, she passed. I’ll never forget the last conversation we had. It was different. Usually she’d talk to me until I had nothing left to say and then even then she could sit in silence. This time was different though. In the middle of me talking she just said “I’m going to go now, goodbye baby, I love you”…….and that was it. The next morning, no one had to tell me. I just knew. She was gone. It was devastating.
2 weeks later my father and I were making my firstc ross country trip to attend her funeral. Her funeral was the first time in 14 years I was seeing any of my family. Her funeral was the first time in 14 years I was seeing my Grandpa. I hadn’t really had time to process everything yet. I was devastated but that goes without saying. It was so much to take in. What should be a happy time reuniting with family after years of isolation was mixed with the sadness of Grammy not being there in the flesh. This was also my first time dealing with loss.
The night of the funeral is when it all hit me. Hit me like an 18 wheeler going 75mph on the interstate. I cold not stop crying. I cried from the time we walked in and had the private family prayer all the way through to the reception. I was so full of emotions and one of the biggest was anger. Anger toward my abuser. Angry that he had controlled my life for so long that missed out on all the time I had left with my Grammy and now, she was gone. Angry that anyone could have that kind of power.
The week that I spent at my Grandpas was a whirlwind. He was ready to just get rid of everything, but I needed the chance and time to go through what I wanted of hers, to keep. A week was not enough time for that. I talked him into leaving things alone for a while until I could get back and take the time I needed. 6 months later I took a week and returned. This visit had less guests and I was able to stay in her room and go through her things. It’s now been 4 years and I’m still not done. For one, he lives across the country so it’s hard to get enough time off to make that trip frequently. On average I get out there at least once a year, if not twice a year, but I’m still not done with her things. It’s hard to explain, but every time I go, something new “speaks” to me.
The first time I was “spoken” to by something in her room was that first visit after the funeral. All week this stupid little prince frog trinket had kept catching my eye. On the last day of my trip I was on the phone with my mother and I was pacing the room, fidgeting with different things as we talked and I happened to pick up that stupid frog. To my surprise when I opened it up, the bottom fell out and something dropped to the ground. When it caught my eye I got a rush. I knew exactly what it was. I quickly got off the phone and ran to my Grandpa. Holing a small, elegant gold chain with a gold heart locket and a tiny gold ring, I said “Grandpa, was this mine?”. My Grandpa looked shocked, “where did you find that?!?”. I brought him that stupid frog and showed him that it was a secret compartment. Turns out the necklace was in fact mine and the tiny ring on it was my baptism ring. My Grammy was an ordained pastor and I was the first person she ever baptized. I remember her letting me where this special necklace when we’d go to church. I had found a treasure. Inside the locket was a picture of both my Grammy on one side and my Grandpa on the other.
A year later on my next visit, I was laying in her bed and that stupid looking frog caught my eye again. I decided I needed to keep that too and to this day when I’m not wearing my locket, he holds it for me as he did for many, many years.