|©Copyright 2009-2010 Out Of The Blue.
By MICHELLE McALLISTER
Published: July 22, 2010
Happy Birthday Grandma
I actually wrote this piece 2 years ago to the day. I think I might have even been sitting in this same spot
with a cocktail, just as I am now, except that night there were tears in my eyes. Tonight, there is a faint
smile where tears once were. I had planned another piece for today, but after reflection I still felt the
need to post this tribute to my Grandma. Gone six years, but still in my heart, and of course, never
forgotten. I love you, Grandma Deany.
Today was my Grandma’s birthday. Normally, birthdays are a time of celebrating life, but for me it just
marks another year of her being gone from my life. Even after four years, the void her passing left in my
life is yet to be filled. They say that time heals all wounds…what they don’t say is how much time it
I actually thought I was doing better in dealing with her death the last couple of years. But each year,
two days never fail to throw me off kilter…the day she died and her birthday. I knew today would be
tough after a sleepless night of tossing and turning and staring at the clock. It’s as if life goes on
normally until July 21st, and then I’m reminded that the woman who meant so much to me is gone.
One year, on her birthday, I remember the fit she threw when I called to wish her a happy birthday.
Because I lived far away, I had sent her flowers. She gave me nine kinds of hell for wasting money on
flowers that would die after a few days. Didn’t I have anything better to spend my money on, she
admonished me. Then she ordered me to never send her flowers again and that a phone call was
sufficient. It took a few years before I actually was able to abide by her wishes…what else do you get a
woman who wants for nothing to let her know you are thinking of her on her birthday?
After the flower fiasco, I took to sending cards. I’ll never forget the year I called on her birthday to hear
another admonishment. I must have really liked the card I sent her the previous year, because I actually
went out the next year and bought the same exact card and sent it to her again, and boy, did she let me
know it! And I happen to know for a fact that she would have recognized this, because after her death, I
came across every greeting card the woman received for her entire life.
We had a good chuckle over that, and I think it was then that I realized that for Grandma, the best thing I
could ever do for her birthday didn’t include presents, flowers, cards, or anything materialistic, for that
matter. Just a simple phone call, letting her know that I loved her, that I was thinking of her, and that I
was celebrating the beautiful day the world was graced with her presence was more than enough.
The only thing I didn’t learn that day was to cherish the time I had with her. Sure, as I got older, I realized
that one day she would be gone from my life. But I don’t think it was until she became ill, that I realized I
should have been treasuring every moment I had to spend with her or talk to her. I took for granted
those marathon phone calls when the miles separated us, and even more shameful, when I was finally
able to move back home, I took those four miles between us for granted. Oh, I can go over there
anytime, I thought…tonight I’m too tired, or there are too many chores, or too many errands to run.
Now staring at the sink full of dishes, and the toys scattered about the living room, and the laundry piling
up, I’ve realized there is nothing more important in life than the people you love. All of that stuff will still
be there waiting for you after you’ve taken the time to let your loved ones know how much they mean to
you. It sounds so cliché, and maybe it’s one of those things in life you just can’t learn until it actually
happens to you but, it’s definitely the hardest lesson I’ve ever learned.
After you’ve spent time with those you love, after you’ve listened to them, after you’ve kissed and hugged
them, take the time to say the words – I love you – My life would be empty without you – or whatever the
words are for you. Just say them. Let them know that after they are gone, on the eve of their birthday,
sleep will escape you and be replaced by a hurt so intense you are left feeling helpless…and that even
though a time might come when 364 days pass before you realize they are gone from your life; you’ll
never ever forget them.
Happy Birthday, Grandma Deany.