What Would Grandma Do?
When someone dies, I think it's easy to idealize them, to make someone who was a little snarky into a compassionate listener, to change the most annoying of people into heroes just because they're gone or to revive a friendship that was most certainly not in good standing after one party's death.
Not that I've been a party to any of those things or that watching people do stuff like that when I was kind of young made me see the value in being as real as possible all the time. So much so that when a kid I'd gone to high school, Dave H, who was, by most accounts a real pain in the ass, when he died after a prolonged semi-coma following a car accident the Thanksgiving after graduation, I wrote to his family and said something along these lines:
I won't pretend that Dave was my best friend, or that we were even friends at all. Knowing Dave was a challenge for me, a challenge I faced in new ways pretty much every time we opened our mouths in each other's presence. But knowing Dave and being a leader to Dave (in band) taught me more than anyone I've ever known (and to be fair, his impact on the way I lead the hockey teams is great, even and especially today). I will never forget Dave, I'm certainly a better, stronger, more compassionate person for having known him.
His mom, who had also dealt with some of the challenges involved in knowing Dave, wrote back and thanked me for my honesty, saying that I was the only person who seemed to really 'get' who Dave was. I remain flattered and humbled by that response even today. Dave's ashes are spread in 2 places, which, if you knew him (and go figure, a couple of you did), it makes perfect sense.
So how does this connect to Grandma? Because one of the most amazing things about Grandma was her ability to tell it like it was, in very compassionate terms. There was an element of sugar-coating, yes, like in Mary Poppins, she made the medicine go down, but there was always the truth, front and center. I like to think that my valuation of honesty and compassion comes from knowing her, that her legacy is as much about knitting, Pepsi and love as it is about facing the truth of any situation head-on, then finding the most equitable solution for all involved.
Now, when something troubles me, I stop and ask what Grandma would do and then I smile, confident in the knowledge that whatever I choose to do, she'd approve. Because I learned it from her.
Her house goes on the market in the next week or so. I thought I could go see it, re-done and ready for someone else to own but I just can't. Better to keep the memories in my heart, unclouded by shiny wood floors and tasteful decorations.
I miss her so much. You have no idea.