Mar. 16th, 2010

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The last words on his lips were, "I love you, Bea."

That's the story my Grandma Beatrice likes to tell. Well, in the right situation. She's not about to recall the last mortal moments of her first husband at a baby shower or wedding reception. She's got way too many hilarious stories about growing up on a goat farm for that. Goats can be down right hilarious, if you didn't know. They might not actually eat tin cans, but they will try. And trust me, you haven't really lived until you've seen (and heard) a goat trying to chomp down a Radio Flyer wagon whole.

So she'll tell her funny goat stories when everybody is laughing and pink in the face. But later, if you stick around and help her wash dishes, she might tell you, "Walter gave me that butter dish."

And then she'll apologize because you never knew Walter --he was her first husband and died before you were born, after all. You wait for her to say something like you remind me of him or I bet you two would have gotten along but it never comes, because as soon she lets it slip, she clams up and won't say another word.

Except for those last words. I must have heard them two dozen times growing up. I memorized them. I memorized the inflection of Grandma's voice when she said each word. I memorized the ordinary things that might bring Grandpa Walter up: my uncle's baby photo, the antique trivet on her stove, the framed painting of a lighthouse in her kitchen. I memorized then like multiplication tables or the state capitals. It became a part of me, as much as Madison, Wisconsin or Dover, Delaware and six times seven equals forty-two became a part of me. I knew it, but I didn't really know it.

And now, when I visit her in home, and she can only remember me sometimes? Well, I can say it hurts. It shouldn't, but it does.

But even now, she likes to tell that story of her first husband. In 1960, how he passed away. Even with all morphine and the cancer eating up his body, he remembered to tell her he loved her. He even puckered his lips a little as she leaned in for a goodbye kiss. His voice was dry sandpaper, she says, but she could hear him. He spoke louder and clearer than he had in weeks, probably to be heard around the choir of angels, she says.

And even though it hurts a little when she thinks we're just a bunch of strangers who wandered on to the farm, I want nothing more for her than what her Grandpa Walter had. For her to know that she loved until her very last breath. For her to know that she loved and was loved, until the end and beyond. I want it for her, and I want it for me, and I want it for you.

Because, in the end, each of us might not recognize the faces of our own children, but we will always recognize love. We might not have any clue what happens next, but we will always know love.

This was brought to you by [ profile] therealljidol!
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Hokay, and I just spent a couple sleepy hours reading wank at [ profile] therealljidol.

skljfmnf .__.

I don't spend enough time in the green room, and I pretty much missed everything so I don't know what to say. I wouldn't have even known about it if it weren't for my f-list.

I just...I love you guys. Even on days you might not love yourself. ♥


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