Looking back I realized I was one of those lucky kids. I never really knew what death was until I was in 8th grade. Sure, I had heard about it and seen it on tv and movies but I never really had experienced for myself. But that all changed when I was in 8th grade.
I still remember that day so clearly, my dad came to check me out of middle school. I never got checked out so I thought it was a treat. Plus, growing up I tend to favor spending time with my dad over spending time with my mom. Not to say that I didn’t and don’t still love my mom- but I was a Daddy’s Girl for sure.
Back to the story, I can remember walking down the sidewalk from the front of my middle school and asking my dad what was up? And he looked at me and said: “ We are going to Massachusetts to see your Grandma?” I was like cool, living and growing up in North Carolina, I never got to see both of my grandmas so I was excited. But then I thought it was weird because we were in school and we don’t normally visit during the school year. So I asked my dad. “ What’s up?” He said we are going to see your Grandma because she died this morning.” I looked at him and said “ Grandma Greene (my dad’s mom) right?” ( Don’t get me wrong I loved both of my grandmothers, but Grandma Greene had been in and out of the hospital and I thought she had finally given up.) But he said, “ No honey, it is your Grandma Dresser.” Shocked, I just looked at him and asked what happened. He said she died her sleep. Her heart just gave out.
I was heartbroken. How could my spunky grandma have died? This was a woman whose heart was so big, who wasn’t afraid to tell you she felt and could make us laugh at almost anything. The grandma who laughed at us not being able to hit a snake with a rock. Making fun of us, but in the next breath, tell us how she would show us how to do it. And then proceeding to get a big rock to stand directly over the snake, drop the rock and still missed. ( Don’t worry it wasn’t a poisonous snake it was a harmless garter snake and FYI NO snakes were ever harmed – so no need to send animal rights groups after me.)
The same Grandma who pulled up her shirt to show us her colostomy bag because one of my sisters said she walked funny. The same grandma always wore gloves and a hat when she went to town. That grandma was gone.
I sometimes sit back and think about that day and then I remind my girls how lucky they were to have both sets of grandparents for so long. They still have 3 of the 4 with my dad passing in 2014. But they also got to meet and know their great grandpa Simon in Mexico before he passed. So they have been very lucky. I never really knew my mom’s dad and my dad’s dad was out of the picture before I came along. And sadly in August of the same year that I lost my Grandma Dresser, I lost my other Grandma- my tough as nails Grandma Greene.
So tell me what was your first experience with death?