Yep, I haven't written a blog post in months. But this week's little story wanted to be told...
This past Tuesday, at a hamburger and Mexican food joint in Whittier, I saw my Grandma Lucy. She sat at the booth to the left of me. Her hair was white and short and sleek, as usual. She was wearing a collared polo and casual pants. She was wearing some sort of loafer shoes, which didn't necessarily go with her outfit. All of this typical for my Grandma in her final years--of ages 93 or 94 or 95, when other people made decisions for her at the nursing home where she lived and died.
This past Wednesday, I made a business stop at a local hospital and drove by this nursing home, which is across the street. I hadn't been near it in months. Hadn't wanted to. I drove past the back of the nursing home and also the front and wondered what it had looked like when they'd taken Grandma's body away the night that she died. I'd been with Grandpa in 2009 when he took his last breath at a different nursing home. Unfortunately (for me at least), my Grandma died without me.
This past Thursday, I was at a local mall (words which you will rarely hear from my mouth). Who happened to walk toward me at one point--but an R.N. from my Grandma's nursing home. Grandma died in April, but his condolences were fresh.
Why on this Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday--was Grandma Lucy so present? I couldn't imagine why. It had been months since I'd had any sad thoughts of Grandma's passing. Heck, I even visited her old house (right next to my old house) in Chicago last month--and all was fine. I was okay. I was really okay. But this past Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, it's as if someone had socked me in the stomach.
Then I had a very Catholic thought (a number of my Catholic friends seem to hold this sentiment):
What if, just maybe, when our loved ones pass away, they continue to be, present. What if they are, in fact, watching over us?
This thought had never seemed particularly appealing to me. I guess it weirded me out. Knowing that my loved ones would know all of my business. Plus, the concept sounded very juvenile and overly-romantic and not necessarily Biblical.
But this week, when I was feeling burdened and heartbroken over some life matters (even in spite of my deep faith), I wonder if Grandma Lucy was somehow there in the pain with me. Or if God was trying to distract me from my pain by reminding me of Love. Or maybe it was a combination of both.
Since this was Grandma Week, I stopped by Rose Hills, where Grandma and Grandpa's ashes are placed in a niche wall (Rose Hills happens to be the largest cemetery in the world, by the way, so you can imagine how daunting it is--but in a beautiful way). I hadn't been there since April--since Grandma's service. I wanted to see what it looked like to see her "2013" end date. I was pleased to see that they did a nice job with it.
Don't know when I'll visit next. Don't know when I'll feel sad next. But an image that is sticking with me is an image from a grave marker that was near Grandma's niche wall. It was a woman. And there was a slot machine engraved on her marker. At first I kind of laughed. A Vegas aficionada, I thought. But now I wonder if it couldn't also be a metaphor.
We don't know what the next turn of the handle will bring. Some weeks will be strong weeks. And some will be Grandma Weeks.
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