My maternal grandmother, Viola Carrington, passed away yesterday morning, around 6:10 a.m. local time in New York City. She was 88 years old. The image is from my graduation day from high school; the stupid scanner refuses to work properly for me. She’s the only one I ever knew.
Needless to say that while I knew she’d never quite be as well as I wanted her to be, I was still shocked when I received the phone call from my mother yesterday morning. Considering that all of the cancer that had made her suffer over the last two years was gone, I figured I had at least one more chance to see her at home.
Due to the recent misfires with all of my computers, I have lost most of the pictures that I have from the last time I ever saw her about two weeks ago. That’s when I had four different computers decide to say that they either didn’t want to work anymore or that they wanted to be rebuilt. In one of the two clearest moments she had while I was there, she asked me if I liked the room she was staying in. As I’ve said previously, I do not like hospitals, but I also knew that she’d worked in the building years before. The last thing I ever did was kiss her on the cheek and hug her. She looked at me and said thank you as my mother and I left to complete the errands for my last day in town.
All I could think of when I saw her was of all the other people who she’d taken care of over the years, and of how she was now one of them, one of many that are beginning to live longer, but not necessarily able to enjoy it. I thought of how I was told that when I was handed my little brother upon his arrival home that I walked over to her and “handed” him to Granny (Handed meant nearly throwing the newborn towards her; thankfully nothing happened then). The irony is that he was the grandson that was able to take care of her when she needed it the most.
What I saw when I was in the room at Manhattanville was not the headstrong person I’d grown up knowing. I learned baseball in part because of her. I remember that I actually ended up taking her to her first baseball game while I was in high school. We sat through a 3-hour rain delay to watch her beloved Yankees play (and win). One of the reasons I have cats is because of remembering how neither of her cats would necessarily want to come out and talk with me. It was Boomer that woke me up yesterday morning about the time that my grandmother passed; he just looked at me and started purring, resting his head on my chest after having just hopped up on me, jumping me out of a rare recent case of deep sleep.
I probably chose to get out and explore because of my grandmother, Not the getting on the plane and exploring new states and countries, though she had the opportunity to do that. This is the getting on the subway and just riding to see where it took you or getting in the car and choosing a road. She was not as afraid of getting on the subway or bus as many would have thought. She would get my brother and I on a bus in suits many weeks to go to church. I’d told her that I’d get confirmed once I finally got settled somewhere I wanted to be for a while. When I finally did get confirmed, I realized that she may not ever know, with her memory already affected.
She was not perfect, but she was good. And for all of the people that have to hear about doing it because of how much was sacrificed for you to get to where you’ve gotten to in life, it was great to know that all she wanted most times was to hear my voice and know that I was OK. But she never got a chance to watch me get my college degree. She never got to see Birmingham, never knew that I got the job that epitomized why I went to college. She only recently was able to realize that I was no longer living in Savannah. I am grateful that I got at least one more chance to see her.
The main comfort I find this All Saints Sunday is in reading the lyrics to one of her favorite hymns and knowing that she lived as full a life as one would hope, both in joy and pain, and that she may finally get a chance to see what I was able to do with my life to this point and be proud.
I’m going to take a break for a few days, though I do have a couple of posts that are already automatically set for posting.. I’ll see you on the other side.