10/28/2009

i love this:

Grandma reaches final destination in Heaven
Aug. 23, 2007
By Will E Sanders
Staff Writer

I've made wisecracks my whole life. I made them when I was feeling up. And I've made them when
I was feeling down. But the downfall of making wisecracks is, if you make enough of them over
time, people stop taking you seriously. Ten minutes ago, I found out my grandma has cancer; a
rare, painful kind that ultimately will end her life in no more than two years.

I wrote that July 17 for a column I began but didn't finish. It wasn't because it was too
emotional a topic to tackle; it was. And as I sit here a month and three days later at 4 a.m.,
it still is. My grandmother, Betty Jane Shroyer, 83, died five hours ago. I won't begin to
diagnose how I feel or my current state of mind. We all know what it's like.

She was the only person that called me "Willie" and got away with it, saying it in this tone
that parents reserve for mischievous children. I always showed off for her, too, trying to make
her giggle with a dirty joke or two that inevitably resulted in her calling me a "goofball."

She never cursed - at least that I heard - and whenever the situation arose when she might be
spurred into cussing, she'd always say "Ju-das Priest." She had trouble saying the
words "Cincinnati" (Sin-sah-na-da), "jalapeño" (jal-la-pino) and "chimney" (chim-el-ly), and I
never let her live it down. She hated any story I told her that began, "The other day I was on
the roof of my house ..."

She made me laugh so hard once in her backyard under her apple tree when I was 10 years old or
so. I asked her, "Grandma, I never heard you pass gas before. Can grandmas do that?" As if God
had ordered her to do it, my grandmother did it right there on the spot, grinning at me with
this look of surprise.

Humans have a way of remembering the most insignificant circumstances about a person when they
perish. In this occasion, I can't help but think back to the day when my grandmother,
underneath her apple tree with gnarled limbs, proved me wrong. But she spent the better part of
her life proving people wrong, including doctors.

In 1962, back before chemotherapy and during the time of radiation therapy, Grandma beat breast
cancer despite medical forecasts. As recently as last week, she told me, "God gave me 42 years
I never expected to have." She had no regrets. Two months ago, I asked Grandma if she was
afraid to die. She said that she was. But then I asked Grandma, the longest serving member of
her church, if she believed she would go to Heaven and Grandpa would be there waiting for
her. "Yes," she said.

As I sit here in this dark room sporadically drinking lukewarm tap water, that image eases the
suffering. But it does not vanquish it. For that, I have only time.

One of the biggest regrets in my life was refusing to spend the night at Grandma and Grandpa's
house a few nights before my grandpa suffered a stroke. Grandpa said he really wanted me to
stay so I could play church hymns for him on the guitar, because I played guitar for the church
choir at the time. I declined. He was never the same after that. Lynn Oscar Shroyer died
shortly after that.

It was a hard way of learning that today's decisions have tomorrow's consequences. To this day,
when I find myself alone with only my dog Silas around and feeling the most lost in this world,
I strum the chords to church hymns.

Tragedy has a way of placing "concerns" into perspective. Five hours ago, I was obsessing
because the latch on the storm door wasn't working right. I thought it was the end of the
world. And now I know better. Suddenly, petty concerns like that disappear. Actual concerns
rise to the surface. My grandmother is dead.

Days leading up to her death, my older brother Dustin told me: "If you put a piece of paper in
front of me that guaranteed I'd live to be 83, that I would be able to watch all my children
grow up, and watch all my grandchildren grow up, I'd sign it." And so would I.

That's an interesting prospect, but life carries no such guarantees. My mother is filled with
heartache and agony over the loss of her mother. Grandma was her best friend. And while my
mother is a great mother, she was an even greater daughter.

There's an old Rand McNally globe Grandma had; it's sun-faded and out-of-date. A keen eye will
notice a vanishing black line that travels around the globe. The black line is from a marker
Grandma used more than 60 years ago over a three-year period, tracing the course of my
grandpa's three-year journey on an aircraft carrier during his service in World War II.

She waited three years without seeing my grandpa, her fiancé at the time. Over those years, all
she had to remind herself of Grandpa was an occasional letter from one corner of the Earth or
another. That, and a black marker. And a globe.

I keep thinking about that globe, but more specifically the vanishing line upon its entire
surface. The black line shows just how far love is willing to travel to find its true
destination.

Five hours ago, that dulling black line rose off of the surface of that faded globe and began
rising to Heaven. And there is where it shall stay for the rest of eternity.

2 comments:

http://mileinmine.blogspot.com said...

hey, there. 'member me? i'm thomas' wife. i'm going to send this last entry to a friend whose mama past away last year.
thomas told me about your mom. so sorry.
best wishes.
deena
and look at/subscribe to my blog when you get a chance.

kenzaloo said...

oh yes i member you!!! duhhhhh!!!!! i'll check out your blog for sure. thanks for looking at mine. my friend will wrote this article, it's beautiful right?! i love it so much!!! glad you're sharing it! xoxoxo