For those of you who didn’t see it, my wonderful grandma died yesterday. Although it wasn’t a huge surprise – it still hurts in a way I haven’t had to know in awhile. I wrote this for her — she was such a great lady I don’t think anyone could express it — but that’s what I do when something happens, good or bad, so here we are.
Today the sad news came that my grandmother, Mildred McCaslin, had passed away, finally peaceful, in her sleep, leaving a hole in us that can’t really be filled. It’s true that she had a long life, a happy life, a mostly healthy life. That brings some comfort, I suppose. But that can’t replace her, and it doesn’t make me miss her any less.
How could you replace a woman who used the phrases, “No more sense than a goose in church,” “beans from apple butter,” “for the birds,” and, when talking about looking your best, “A house always looks better with paint on the shutters!” One of my other favorites was, “Well, you can’t beat that all day with a stick!”
Every single day, no matter what, company or not, she always had on nice clothes, full makeup, her beautiful jewelry on, and her hair styled. Many times I dropped in on her when I knew she was expecting no one and would find her in nice slacks, lipstick applied — looking far nicer than myself, coming from work, with my hair in a ponytail and nothing but chapstick on my lips. We could all learn something from the way she presented herself. I remember she told me when I was in college, “Now, you don’t have to wash out your pantyhose every day.” I didn’t have the heart to tell her I hadn’t worn pantyhose since the prom, when I stuffed them in the garbage because they were bothering me. And my favorite phrase, the one we all know and have heard many a time, was her welcome, “Come into my parlor!!”
How could you replace a woman who worked a full time job, attended church service Sunday morning and afternoon (with dinner for the minister in between, of course,) attended church service Wednesday, and still managed to produce a full Thanksgiving dinner for upwards of 20 people the next day? Between seven of us, through furious and threatening emails over the course of about eight weeks, we *almost* got it right last year. My grandma, whose spaghetti sauce I make, whose coconut cake I thought I’d try until I saw it started with “Take two full coconuts,” whose peach cobbler is now becoming my signature dish — what am I going to do without her? I can’t call and hear her familiar, “Oh, hi, Hon!” anymore when I need some clarification or ask what the heck oleo is.
How could you replace a woman who never said a bad word about anyone? Her faith, love, and attitude are something most people strive for. The last words she said to me, while lying in the hospital, were, “Isn’t this great?” She was just so happy I was there – the rest didn’t matter. If there was anyone who lived by the “glass half full” adage, it was her. I like to think I got some of my optimism from her, that my tendency to think the best of people comes from her. And that attitude and love is evident in all the people she received letters from – the minister who baptized her, the doctor at Mayo Clinic from years ago, friends from Florida, and “girls from work” from where she retired well over 30 years ago. How many of us have friends like that?
But we all must pass, I suppose, however much it hurts those around us. And I truly believe that she is at peace now. Not only at peace, but with all of those whom she loved and passed before her; her brothers, her son, my Papa – her husband of 62 years. May all of those in heaven welcome you, Grandma, just as you’ve welcomed so many of us into your parlor for many, many years. You were one amazing woman that can never, ever be replaced. I love you.