Monday, January 30, 2017
bound for heaven...
Rest in Peace, Grandma
April 10, 1921 - January 27, 2017
Sometimes you expect people to be around forever. It's not possible. But with family...you just do.
I wasn't shocked when I got the phone call that my paternal grandmother, Opal Dowling, had passed away. Her nurses had advised the family earlier in the week that she would not make it through the week. Those same nurses had advised that she would not make it through the month of December. But she did. This time, I knew it was a matter of time. So, I wasn't shocked when I got the phone call. I was saddened by the call...but not shocked. But more than being sad...I was thankful.
My grandmother got to live 95 years on this Earth. That's a huge blessing and I'm extremely thankful for that. We would all be lucky if we lived to be that age. Up until the day that she died, she knew who she was and where she was. She wasn't in any pain when she left us. I find comfort in those things. She lived through a bad marriage and divorce with my late grandfather. She raised their 5 kids the right way. Unfortunately, she outlived 2 of her kids. Grandma stayed faithful in her belief in God and she always moved forward. She lived through world wars, segregation, and she voted for a black man who became president. She saw a lot in her lifetime.
I'm thankful for the time that I did spend with my grandmother. She was a funny lady. Very funny, beautiful, intelligent, quick witted, and she had a sharp tongue. She would let you know how she felt without holding back. I think that some of what she had was passed to me. And I'm thankful for that. Unlike most kids, I didn't see her all the time. I only saw her a couple of times a year. Grandma lived in Newark, NJ. I was born in Newark but my parents and I moved to South Carolina when I was 3 years old. I'd visit Grandma on holidays or when we would visit NJ for the summer. Even when my parents divorced when I was 13, my mom still made sure that my brother and I saw Grandma when we went to NJ to visit our family.
Grandma lived in the same high rise apartment building since the 60s (i think). I know she had been there for all of my life. One of the best things about her apartment was that it had a great view of the skyline in Newark. And it had a great view of the skyline in New York City. You could easily see the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and the World Trade Center. I remember spending HOURS just staring out of that window. New York City was only 10 miles away but from her window it felt like you could touch it because it was much closer than that. I enjoyed those days being around her listening to her tell stories about my Dad. Grandma always had a funny story to tell.
As the years passed, I would joke with her about sending me a birthday card "on time." My birthday is December 9th. But for most of my life, Grandma would send my birthday card to me a week or 2 after my birthday. Sometimes, I'd get in in January. But it was cool because it came from Grandma. Unlike my cousins who lived in New Jersey, I didn't get to see her as much. When I got to college, I'd call once and awhile just to say hello. I think I called about as much as any other kid in college would call. I wish that I had called more and made more visits as time passed. But I don't have any regrets because I know she loved me and I loved her.
These past 2 years have been different...as to be expected. She moved from Newark to Virginia to live with my cousin. She could no longer live in that apartment in NJ. My cousin and his family took excellent care of her. Grandma was in the initial stages of dementia. When I got the word about it, I had a deep fear that I would call her and she wouldn't know who I was. I couldn't live with that. I had already experienced dementia with my late Uncle Ronnie. I talked to her a handful of times but only twice within the past year. I would have much rather seen her face-to-face so that she would remember me. It didn't happen. I'm at peace with it. I have great memories of Grandma. I remember one of our last and funniest conversations...
Me: "Grandma, I saw some pictures of you."
Her: "Where did you see pictures of me? I didn't take no damn pictures."
Me: "LOL. They were taken with a cellphone."
Me: "Grandma, you look good for your age."
Her: "Boy, I look good for ANY age!"
LOL! That's my Grandma. That's who she is. I thank God for making. I thank God for helping her make the man that made me. I know God will take care of her.