My grandmother finally passed away a little over a week ago. I say finally in a good way (as goood as death can be) because I don’t think anyone in our family could stand to see her fade the way she did. The woman laying in that bed, blankets afoot and family aloft, was not the woman I knew. While the basics of life were still in her, the spirit of her life was drained.
A few days before she left our plane, I went to our family camp on lake Champlain. The building itself is closed for the season now but there’s nothingpreventing wanderers from gathering on the porch. There, with wife and children in tow, I poured a beer into a glass and looked out over the slow draining lake. This year the lake has been at its absolute lowest point that I can remember. Fitting I suppose, that the place that makes me think most of my Mimi is unlike how it used to be.
I love beer, everything about it. Even when I hate it, I love it. The beer I poured on that deck was one that took me back to seeing Mimi drink. It may sound odd to reminisce someone’s alcoholic tendencies but…
She would often pour a cheap beer into a brandy snifter and drink it. I don’t know why. Maybe it was the irony of clashing the cheap with the expensive. Maybe it was just habit.
If beer wasn’t touching her silver tongue, it was coffee. There had been many hours I’ve sat at her kitchen table, listening to her talk and drinking Folgers out of old mugs. Beautifuly old mugs. Mugs that told stories even when she stopped talking. How many cups of coffee have I shared with her? How many beers? The answer is the same to both questions. Not enough.
While I stood on the deck with my beer, the kids talked while eating sandwiches. Their high pitched voices reminded me of my own. I have so many memories of being small and seeing my Mimi as an omnipresent overlord. Being November on the lake in Vermont, the air was cold. The sky was overcast. Every once in a while though, the sun came out and filled us with a preview of summer. The light that shown through the clouds was hot, it warmed us.
I don’t believe in god. I don’t think after people die that they can clear a rainy sky, or “stick around” to watch their children. I’m pretty skeptical of anything supernatural or anything that’s considered “a sign.” What I know though is that every time the clouds broke enough for the sun to show, I felt warm. I know that it’s the same warmth that I got when I listened to Mimi talk. No matter how long she talked for (and trust me, she could talk, and talk and talk and talk) I was warm, no matter how many clouds were in my day.
I’ve stated before that in the my entire life, for whatever reason, I haven’t really known her. She was a mystery. In the last ten years or so is when we really started to bond. That’s when we would sit with the Folgers and she would force some odd concoction of asalad onto me, forever afraid that I was hungry. Forever wondering how I’m doing, what I’m into, what I think about life. She wanted to know. And I wanted the same from her.
I’d be lying if I said I went to her house every day, or even every week. Every time I saw her though, I was thankful for her words of wisdom, her stories of her life and yes, even her packages of Mrs. Dash that she thrust upon me. My time with Mimi is like most things in this life: quality over quantity.