You left us on Fat Tuesday in 2003. It’s been eleven years, and today marks the first time that Fat Tuesday has been on March 4th, just as it was in 2003. And, even as I sit here, and realize all that’s gone on in these 11 years, there has been and will never be anyone quite like you. I remember the last time I saw you in the Nursing Home, when time stopped, and we held each other’s hands as Dolly Parton’s version of “I Will Always Love You” played somewhere in the background.
I can hear you saying “Linny”. No one gets to call me that. It’s a name reserved only for you. I’ve heard you in races. I think it was the Marine Corps Marathon where I visualized you sweeping the porch and getting your brothers up from the card table to blow me down the course. I can barely see the house in Selma now, because they’ve put up a big wall on Highway 99, but I FEEL you every time I drive home.
I miss you.
I miss your smile. I miss having dessert immediately after dinner so we can get all the eating done in one sitting. I miss watching you get up and slam the TV off after Lasorda refused to replace the pitcher, sending your beloved Dodgers to yet another loss. I drive by the Mobile Home park on Herndon and Blackstone, and I feel you there. I can call up the smell of your home, and the creak of the stairs as I walk up to see you. We are playing Bingo with dimes in the clubhouse. We are swimming, and you are washing and drying and wondering why no one can bring their own towel? (There is some type of karma here, because no one brings beach towels to my pool, either.)
It’s coming over to see you when, as a college student, I was a little blue and you would always have sweet rolls. The kind in the package. And you would try to cheer me up, and I would join a sorority and be in and out of your house, and you were always there. On the top step saying goodbye or hello, but always. There.
And I miss Dayton. Coloring books and crayons. Eskimo Pies. BoBo barking as we play basketball in your driveway. The fact that you made two types of oatmeal: One with water, and one with milk, because everyone liked it differently. And Christmas. The best ones at your house with all of the cousins. Hearing the train on hot summer Fresno nights, and going to the movies on the corner. Bass Lake, a topic on its own. But, a gift that you gave to all of us.
And my first memory. You in our house, and I am a little girl of 4, and I get to go in and wake you up in the morning. And I jump on top of you and you start singing to me. And the bed is warm, and you are my Granny and you LOVE me. You let me break the rules, and I can crawl all over you.
And so, dear Granny. It’s been 11 years. I lost that marriage (yep, number 2), and I have two teenagers, and they are magnificent. And, Lisa is a grandmother, and Laura has fallen in love…like, really in love. I just turned 55 and am running my 6th marathon, which might be a bit of a joke, but I’m doing it anyway. And I hope you will show up there, just like all the other times, and I will hear Dolly Parton, and I will always love you until my last breath.
It’s Fat Tuesday. Only you would have died on this day. A day of celebration and joy. Of fun. You brought joy to all of us, every single time. And I miss you more than words can say.