Monday, August 21, 2006

Saying goodbye to my grandfather

I got back last night from my grandfather's funeral in North Carolina. It was a very long few days filled a lot of tears, as you'd expect. My grandmother has been suffering from dementia for quite a while now, so she had moments where she knew "her best friend" had gone, and then there were other times where we had to explain to her where Daddy George was. My grandfather was a gentle, loving man. He got up every morning and asked himself what he could do to make my grandmother's life happy, and every night he asked himself if he had done those things because she deserved them. He loved his church, and his mountain home, which is why it was such a struggle to get him to leave earlier this spring and enter assisted living in Florida. This picture was taken just hours before they left, and I think it captures the love he still had for my grandmother - even 64 years after he had married her - so perfectly.

When the pastor gave his eulogy - he wasn't just talking about a member of his congregation, he was talking about a friend. He cried as he spoke. He brought things my grandfather had made for him - a wooden nativity scene that had been a Christmas gift his first Christmas at the church and a beautiful hisbiscus flower that had grown year after year in front of the house - the result of my grandfather's continual love and care (until this spring). Daddy George is buried in the church cemetary with a view of the church and his mountains - two things he loved so much, but not as much as my Moma Dot. Who truly was the love of his life. They married when she was just 17. He served in the navy for 20 years and she followed him around, raising his three kids and creating a home filled with love and lots of southern cooking. I brought home a cast-iron skillet to remember them by and last night I made cornbread for the first time. It didn't taste nearly as good as it did sitting at their table, but as I cooked with that skillet, I thought of him in their kitchen. When I burned my hand, I could hear my grandfather saying "girl, what are you doing? You know that skillet is hot!"

Life is so precious. There were so many times I kept telling myself I needed to call them or go see them and I let the moment pass me by. My grandmother is in a very delicate condition right now and will be staying with one of my aunts, but I won't let a week go by without telling her I love her and reminding her that her and Daddy George's love have truly been a blessing in my life. And that watching their love has given me hope to find something lasting of my own.