R.I.P. Gram.....Thank you
Above is a picture of my Gram and me, from my first Christmas. I was a little over 2 months old. From my Twitter, Facebook, and My Space updates, all of you know that she passed away around 10:oo PM on Tuesday June 9th 2009. She was 91 years old. Alberta Brown (my Gram) was survived by her 1 sister, 5 children, and 5 grandchildren, and I can't even count how many great-grandchildren. I know I am not including extended family in that, but I'd be typing for days. As some of you may know, Gram was always an important person in my life. The two people who have ever loved me unconditionally, always, are now in Heaven: my Dad and now Gram.
As a kid, I never fit in. I was never in the cool club (still not), I was never picked first for anything. I always felt different from everyone, and that something was wrong with me. Well my Gram helped me to understand that being different isn't bad. And with patience I would see that being different is what people of character have. Because they know how to always be themselves, regardless of the situation. I used to spend so much time at Gram's (she lived in Paducah, which is about 4 hours away) every summer and especially every Christmas. Summers were especially nice because usually it was just her and I (Grandpa passed away when I was 6). So we had our special times. Like everytime I would visit her, she would always make sure we went to Mr. Ghatti's pizza and we would share a pizza.
Gram would be up before the sun, and I would wake up and she'd be in the kitchen drinking coffee, and I would ask to try some (maybe this is why I don't drink the stuff now....YUCK lol). We would just sit there, my feet barely able to reach the ground, and just talk. She would actually listen to me talk about the silliest things, and never made me feel like I was bothering her, or wasting her time. This, at a time where I was getting ridiculed for most anything, made me feel like I mattered.
My Gram was one of the first people I remember having cable tv. And the reason she got it? So I could watch my cartoons without having to share the tv with anyone. When it was other times of the year and Aunts and Uncles and cousins were around, she even made sure that when I wanted to watch something, I had run of the tv. Again, these moments are a few of many of the reason I have always looked out for my Gram, growing up.
As I got older, when I visited, it was amazing how her house was still an amazing rescue. As I started collecting comic books, instead of dismissing it, she would fund my new found habit,and even place a call to the corner drugstore, that sold them, that I was coming, and if I picked more comics than the cash I had on hand, to simply put it on her tab (I didn't find this out until years later). Whenever I went to visit her, she would also have her freezer stocked full of homemade strawberry preserves, which I would use to be the topping on some vanilla ice cream. Amazing how the simplest of things, are ALWAYS the best.
My Gram's beloved house (the same house my Mom, my Aunts, and Uncles grew up in) burned down last year. Because of the advancing dementia Gram was suffering (she was staying at my Aunt's here in Louisville), they never told her. No one wanted to impart such suffering on a woman we all loved dearly. It wasn't fair. Life already hadn't handed her a fair shake (she has buried her Husband, two sons, and countless other relatives and friends...she deserved a little piece).
Monday my Aunt Jan called me and said she wanted to get a pic of 4 generations: Gram, Mom, me, and my daughters. I told her how Tuesday was my day of training at my new job, and we'd bring the girls over after my wife and I got home. So Tuesday Damary and I got home from work (did I mention we work in the same building?), my Mom had watched the girls and as soon as we came in, they were talking about going to "Gran-Jan's" (what Aunt Jan wants the girls to call her LOL) and take pictures with Grandma Brown and give her a kiss. So we got the girls in their pretty dresses, did their hair and drove over.
Gram was already breathing pretty badly. It was shallow and you could hear the congestion in her lungs. She was in and out of consciousness, but would respond when you talked to her. We took the pictures and then everyone left the room, and I stayed in their. I held her hand, and talked to her for a while. I also kissed her forehead a couple of times and told her I love her. I told her thank you for every but of happiness she has given me. I thanked her for never giving up on me. I thanked her for believing in me when I never had the strength to. I thanked her for hanging on long enough to see me married with great-grandkids for her to see (have I ever mentioned from the moment I saw the latter sonogram of Annabelle, I told everyone that would listen, she looked like Gram??). Somewhere in my heart (maybe recalling my experience with my Dad), I knew this was it. I knew this was my time to say goodbyes and thank yous. Before we left, I told Mom that her breathing was getting worse, and to call me later on.
Around 10:30 last night the house phone rang. My hear and lungs were in my stomach. I knew. I even took the coward's way out, Damary saw the caller ID and said it was my Mom, and I asked her to get it. Damary was on the phone for all of 7 seconds and handed me the phone. Damary didn't even say anything, and was dead quiet. I said, "Hello?" All I heard was my Aunt in the background crying, and then I heard my Mom's broken voice, and she was crying. I just asked her, "How long ago?" She told me, then got another call...I told her to call me back. She called me back, and I told her I was coming over. The girls heard me getting ready, and asked where I was going. I didn't tell them. I just said I would be back and hugged and kissed them, and asked them not to give Mami a hard time. The said that when they woke up in the morning, they were going to get dressed up again, and go take more pictures with Grandma Brown and give her a kiss again. I hugged them tighter.
I went over to my Aunt's and there were already a ton of people there. I hugged my Mom and my Aunt Jan. I mostly stayed in Gram's room with her, just because she's my Gram, this life or the next. Worst part was when the funeral home took her out in the body bag/stretcher. That is an image and feeling that I will never shake.
And when one would think things don't get worse, this morning I told the girls. Annabelle (2 year old) didn't really understand it. Ayanna, started immediately crying. She said, she wanted to go over to "Gran Jan's" and give Grandma Brown a kiss and cried in my arms. Want to know if you are ready to be a parent?? Picture yourself in a situation like that and ask yourself if you are ready to handle it.
To be honest, I feel like hell. I can't get a grip on reality. My head is spinning, and I drift off to memories of Gram and I at the drop of a hat. Damary isn't sure how to even deal with me, so she just takes a hands-off approach and waits for me to break down.
I just hope that I can be the person who my daughters know they could always be themselves around, even if they aren't too sure what that is. To always know I will be their champion.
Ok, I am rambling and realizing I probably lost most people a while ago.....
-Right now, the wheels are off