Lately, I’ve been trying to take the time to write. To just sit down without TV or distractions and write, whether it’s fiction or journaling or whatever. It hasn’t been easy, to be honest, since I have so little time these days and even less energy. But last week I set my phone timer for 30 minutes, opened my journal and started writing. Here’s what came out:
They’re all gone now. All of them. I am a granddaughter without grandparents. It’ odd how the sadness creeps in sometimes, always when I least expect it. Like when I took off the “pearl” necklace I’d worn as part of a Halloween costume. Costume jewelery with little value, something my Grandma Polly had once tried to sell in a yard sale for 75 cents. (I know because the price written in her handwriting is still stuck to the little box.) But they had belonged to my great-grandmother, a woman I never met and they had resided in my grandma’s house for years. And as I took them off that night, I fancied that I caught a whiff of the way my grandma’s house smelled. And suddenly, I was a child again, standing in her carpeted kitchen on a wintry Sunday afternoon placing cups of coffee on the table and eating a piece of cake I didn’t want, but ate because she wanted me to have it. I miss her sometimes fiercely, the grandma who thought I was beautiful inside and out. Sometimes, I think I miss her the most, because there’s something to being a woman’s only granddaughter.
Then there are the moments when I’m talking to someone and I become conscious of the hand gesture I just made, twisting my hand back and forth the way my Grandma Ruby used to do when she talking, her bracelets jangling on her wrist. And suddenly, I’m in her presence, remembering her smile and her laugh. I used to think we didn’t have much in common, but now I think maybe I was more like her than I realized—stubborn, stronger than I realized, a little bossy, and a teller of stories, with bracelets that jangle on my wrist when I tell them. Sometimes, I think I miss her the most—because there’s something powerful in being loved for just who you are. There’s something about loving a woman whose heart—and eyes—reflect your own.
Maybe it’s a moment when I see a picture of my cousin or brother on Facebook and realize they look like him, my Grandpa Marion. It’s finding his handkerchief among a box of old things, telling a story about him to friends. It’s a memory that springs to mind every Christmas of sitting on his knee in his chair in that old wood-paneled living room singing my own version of “Oh, Christmas Tree.” I remember the way his eyes crinkled at the corners, the way my brother’s do now. I’ve always hated that I never got to know him as an adult, hated he never saw me graduate, much less read anything I’ve written. He was the first grandparent I lost, maybe that’s why I miss him the most sometimes. But there’s something very sweet about being a man’s only granddaughter.
And then there’s the granddad I never met, but love just the same. The quiet face in pictures beside my Grandma Ruby, the face I sometimes catch a glimpse of in my dad’s features. He was a man of honesty and integrity and people still have only good things to say about him, 35 years after his death. He was a hard worker, a man who loved his family. And I miss him and wonder what he would think of me. I don’t know what his voice sounded like or if he liked peach cobbler or what made him laugh. But my Grandma Ruby made sure I knew Granddad would have loved me. Every once in a while, I catch a glimpse of the kind of man he was when I see my dad give to someone in need, put someone else’s needs first, or in that gleam in his eye when he’s about to do something he thinks is funny. My granddad walked in the ways of Jesus. Sometimes, I think I miss him the most because I never actually got to meet him.
The truth is, I miss them all. And there are parts of me that reflect them all, from jangling bracelets and earrings to my attitude and focus to the color of my hair and the smile on my face. I miss them—and I hope I never stop missing them.
They are part of who I am. I will always be their granddaughter.