March 11th, 1923 - October 2nd, 2008
Taking it easy on Sunday with my Grandma, back in the day.
Those two words would always get a laugh
out of you. The words became our battle-cry when I used to say them to
grandpa when he was sick with Parkinson's Disease. You would chuckle
and ask him to repeat them -- you'd tell him they were fighting
words and they'd help him get through the bad times. And the first
thing you said to me, at his funeral, was, "This sucks." And you wanted
me to say it back. And through teary eyes I did. And of course that
made you laugh; through tear-filled eyes of your own.
You had a way of laughing at the most
inopportune, inappropriate times. At least the times seemed inopportune
and inappropriate until I heard you laughing your way through them. And
then I realized those times were the times that needed laughter the most.
When my other grandmother died twelve
years ago you attended the funeral. You saw me there, walked up to me,
extended your hands ... and laughed.
"This sucks!" You exclaimed. And for the first time that day I felt I
would be able to get through that loss. For the first time that day I genuinely smiled. And I made you promise me you
wouldn't take your turn for at least 10 more years. I said I needed,
"At least a decade." And you laughed again and said, "I probably won't
make it through the next ten minutes." That was vintage Mary.
But you were a fighter and you gave me more than the decade that I requested. Of course
now that doesn't seem like it was long enough. And this time you won't
be at the funeral laughing at the most inopportune, inappropriate
times. The times where we need laughter the most, because without it
there's nothing we can do but feel sorry for ourselves and cry.
Now you can retire those words. Why not?
Where you're at you won't need them ever again. The last time I saw you
I said we'd run away and visit Byerly's Restaurant every morning and
Red Lobster every night. You smiled slightly and said, "That would
be nice." We never did get to run away together, but now -- like
I heard you saying you wanted to do so many times before -- you went
I can imagine the two of you drinking coffee together early in the morning at the great Byerly's in the sky,
taking walks at the Glenwood Park that would never have the gall to
install parking meters or change its name to something appalling like,
"Theodore Wirth," having an early lunch at Reed's Drug Store, which is
still serving "malteds" and burgers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and capping off your day with a nice,
home-cooked meal. Or, on those days where you don't feel like cooking,
having a dinner at the Lincoln Del, Bridgeman's or Red Lobster. I can
see the two of you up there saving the rest of us a seat, because for
both of you the more was always the merrier.
Yes, you have no more use for those two
words that made up our battle-cry. But would you mind if I held onto
them for a while? Because I think I'm still going to need them. As
much as I want to live by your example, there's a bond that has been
broken and I don't think I'm going to be able to chuckle my way through
this one. I lost the person that laughed me through the tragedies and
without you it would just seem to be an inappropriate giggle at an
Somehow a part of me couldn't quite believe it back
when you told me you were going to live forever. Another part of me
still knows you weren't kidding -- because as long as I breathe -- your
wisdom, your insight and that unique sense of humor will live on. If
only I could still share it with you. It's so hard to believe you are
gone. I miss you and, dear Grandma ... this sucks!