Last night, my father’s mother, aka Granny, Gramma and later Foxy, passed away in her sleep. All of us are sad, because she was this sweet lady who spent her life accommodating and hugging. My sister saw her last Saturday, and she told her that she would have really good days, then would feel horrible all of a sudden. “I could really go at any time.” My sister and I laughed about that tough broad not going anywhere. Who else was going to carry her own bottle of industrial strength Lysol and clean down hotel rooms before her grandchildren (after spending 2-3 hours drinking and snacking on her home made bran muffins and pancakes in the car) could place their behinds on the toilet seat. Who would buy tiny fuzzy purses, plastic bracelets and rubies for the young girl children of the family. “Going at any moment?” No dice chick. You’re stuck with this rowdy lot you call a family.
Except it’s not realistic. A black woman with health issues who had lived through and recovered from three strokes, no matter how tough she may be, still has to leave this world. Though the knee jerk reaction is to say this isn’t fair, she lived a full life, she was loved by everyone, and she got to see not only her grandchildren, but also her great grandchildren. She passed in her sleep, rather than having her body stage a violent coup. It doesn’t make it easy, but considering how so many aren’t afforded that opportunity, I am grateful for that.
When I was younger, I talked to her every day. God knows about what. But she was my buddy. I know that she (like the rest of my family) wished for me to be more ladylike, but she got with the program. I think she knew that I would ultimately be alright — as long as I heeded her advice on hand washing and water and energy conservation. See, she was green before green was the thing to be.
When I say that she recovered from three strokes, I am not just whistling Dixie. She was still sharp, witty, and as self sufficient as possible, with an impressive wardrobe and shoe collection (hence the name Foxy). One of my favorite moments was when I brought Finge and the Bug to the house, and she broke out the same stencils my sisters and I played with as children. She balanced being quiet and unassuming, with knowing when to put her foot down, no matter who happened to be on the receiving end. She withstood years of my grandfather just being a generalized bastard without a complaint ever. When he passed away, though I was not gladdened, I felt relieved that my grandmother would have a chance at peace and happiness, and she did. For ten years she lived her life without being under the thumb of a tyrant.
When my mother passed away, and we were going through all the changes with my dad and stepmother, I moved out. She called me at my new place, and I thought she was going to preach to me about moving back home. In her own way, she said, “Don’t think for one minute I’m cool with this shit. It’s fucked up, but it’s reality, and we’ll just hold each other down until it gets better.” No one dropped a “honey chile” the way she did. I don’t know what we’re going to do without that lady. It’s hard for my thoughts to be cohesive, because I don’t know where to begin and end with her.
I’d gotten so caught up with my own bull over the past month or so, that I didn’t get the opportunity to call her. Prior to breaking my ankle, I was going to visit her when I went home this summer. Instead, I’m going home for her funeral. I know my heart was in the right place, but again, I’m compelled to reiterate that when you love someone, don’t wait on letting them know. Not after you wash the dishes, or when the kids go to bed or after the laundry. Drop what you’re doing, even if only for a minute, because in the grand scheme, whatever it is isn’t that serious. Time is not a renewable resource.
I love you Foxy. But I know you’ve always known that.