TEARS FOR GRAMMY by Don Evan Scott
Tears for Grammy
by: Don Evan Scott
Randal wiped a bead of sweat from his brow as he rose from his seat and took his place behind the podium. He cleared his throat and chuckled nervously.
“I’ve never done this before.” He looked out over the room and pulled some notes clumsily from his breast pocket.
“When I was growing up, my Grammy – or Barb as most of you know her, was my best friend. She called me over to her house a couple times every week, telling my mother that she needed me to mow the lawn or rake the leaves or move some furniture.
“Sometimes she really needed my help with something, but usually we just hung out. We loved to play chess together. She was far better at it than I could ever hope to be. I remember that on many hot summer evenings we would sit on her back porch and listen to the Red Sox games on the radio. The only time I saw her cry was at the end of that devastating Game 6.
“In all those times – those wonderful times – I never knew that my grandmother had any other friends. I guess I imagined that when I wasn’t with her, she was just moping around the house and watching soap operas. But here I am now in this room with all of you wonderful people, people I have mostly never met, sharing in the celebration of her life and mourning the unfortunate end of it. I realize now that Grammy was more than just Grammy, she was also Barbara – sister, daughter, co-worker, neighbor, confidante, co-conspirator, wife, mother, and of course friend.
Randal paused a moment and caught his breath. “My mother called me on Sunday morning to tell me the news. I thought that such a report would cause me to cry, but not a single tear formed. I was deeply saddened by the guilt.
“The next day, Uncle Chuck called. Thank you for thinking of me, Uncle Chuck. He asked if I would deliver this speech. Beyond petrified, I initially declined, due at least partially to the anger I felt toward myself. My mother, however, in her quietly insistent way with that look – sight unseen – that could guilt the devil himself, convinced me to reconsider.
“Still completely unsure of myself and convinced that I was letting Grammy down, I boarded the plane with just 1 change of clothes, my suit, toiletries, and a notebook. I wrote most of this eulogy while on that plane and finally found those missing tears for Grammy. Of course it had to be on a crowded plane, with everyone watching.” Some people in the crowd chuckled. “They were not tears of sadness however. They were tears of joy.”
Randal looked around the room with a somber face. “For the last ten years, as most of you know, Grammy had a difficult life. First came the nursing home with the questionable morals, and then the diagnosis.” He lowered his head.
“The years for all of us passed slowly after that but for Grammy they stopped altogether. She was gone even before the birth of her first great-grandson six years ago. I brought him, Kenny, here today to be near her for the first time, though really she will be near him always now.
“Five years ago, they made Grammy comfortable in a new home that actually cared about her well-being – and may God bless them for that. One of the nurses who works there even came by today to say goodbye to Grammy.
He took a long pause and dabbed the corner of his eyes with his handkerchief before continuing. “The worst day of my life was the day that I knew – I just knew – that she didn’t know me anymore. I visited her less often after that. Selfish? Perhaps, but I just couldn’t bear to see her – my Grammy, my best friend – lost, confused, and empty inside.
“When I arrived in town yesterday, my mom hugged me and cried. I imagined that someday I will be hugging my son and mourning over her passing and that someday he will be hugging his own child and mourning mine. Death has a way of creeping into your life and reminding you that you need to live while you’re allowed to.
He smiled, “Grammy didn’t need to be reminded of that. I see here today a room that is packed full of her many friends and family, along with others who were touched by her life. I know that she indeed lived.”
“I told my mother not to be sad. Today Grammy is in heaven and she is looking down at the success of her life, including her beautiful great-grandson, who she is meeting for the first time. She is catching up on all of the wonderful things that have happened that she missed in the last ten years. See, I realized on that plane that her death was not the end of her life – it was just the end of her illness. It was the beginning of her life.
“She is more alive today than she has been in a very long time.”
Randal paused again and smiled to his grandmother as she lay peacefully behind him. “God bless you, Grammy. Go Sox!”
“Thank you all for coming.”