Free Bird

“Hiiiiiii!” my step mother answered in an excitedly upbeat tone, “were you watching?”

“Oh no,” I replied, “watching what?”

“Well, I know you don’t watch Glee anymore, but I thought you might be watching because Rachel and Kurt had a sing off and they just sang a beautiful rendition of Bring Him Home from Les Miz.”

My step mother knows everything there is to know about anything my husband or any of my husband’s friends have worked on. She’s the one who informs me when someone we know is in a commercial, or in a magazine or on the Today show.  I’d be lost without her.  In fact, I don’t even know the song Bring Him Home and my husband has been the Resident Director of Les Miz for almost a year and a half now.

“Oh, I’ll be sure to google it,” I replied, “they both have such gorgeous voices, but I’m actually calling to let Dad know that my grandma died.”

“Oh no!!  Oh no!” she said, “oh, hold on I’ll go get him.”

My mother’s mother was 90.  She had Parkinson’s disease and was as frail as a tiny bird when I took my son to see her last week.  It was difficult for her to speak, but her mind was never more sharp.  She still read a book a day and typed me lengthy emails on her iPad filled with parenting wisdom.

IMG_8806She was also an avid reader of this blog.  In fact, she and my other grandma (who is 93) are the reasons I began a blog in the first place.  They both put in the effort to keep up with modern technology, so I put in the effort to make it worth their while.  No technical obstacle is insurmountable when you know photos of your only great grandson lie on the other side.

“Oh wait…you know what?” I called out to my stepmom,  “Michael’s calling me.  I just sent him a text a few minutes ago with the news.  Can you tell Dad I’ll call him right back?”

“Hi sweetie,” I said as I clicked over.

“Hi kid.  How are you?”

“Oh I’m fine, I’m fine. We knew this was coming, I just feel so lucky we made it up there last week.  I’m just so glad she waited for us.”

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I only see my grandma once a year since she and my grandfather decided to retire and live full time at their lake house in Northern Michigan. I think perhaps only Siberia is more difficult to get to, but it just so happened that Les Miz played in Kalamazoo, MI last week.  I was able to rent a car and drive the 4 hours north with G and my fabulous aunt (my Dad’s sister), who volunteered to keep me company. Due to fierce January weather we were only able to stay less than 24 hours or be trapped in a blizzard for a week.

The little guy was afraid of his Great-Grandmother at first, which left her completely unfazed.  She ordered me to have him run up and down the stairs, an assignment that left me nonplussed until I realized her bed was angled in such a way, she could watch him climb.  While her body continually twitched and spasmed due to the effects of her illness, her eagle eyes never left that little boy.  After some time he began to warm up and gingerly closed the distance between them.  He started at the foot of her bed where he hid and  then jumped out to say, BOO!  Then he gave her knuckles.  Next he held her hand.  Then a hug.  Then a kiss.  Her grins expanded in direct proportion to his proximity.

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She died exactly a week after we left.

“I’m sorry it took me a minute to call you back,” Michael said, “I was watching the show when I got your text, I looked down and read Gma died at 830 just as Peter (the actor who plays the lead in Les Miz) began to sing Bring Him Home.  I just had to listen to the whole song.”

20 comments

  • Even Grumpy Old G’Pa’s shed a tear from time to time. Well done and I’m so proud of all of you.

  • your post threw me for a loop. I did see Glee and loved the song rendition and my mind was reliving that moment ,when all of a sudden this most heartwarming face appeared on the screen. Your grandma. what a lovely warm face. I see love there. I am very sorry for your loss but she lives on in your hearts forever. I don’t even know you but I can feel that from here. Beautiful and touching tribute. Thank you very much for sharing with us.

  • I’m so sorry for your loss; however much we mentally anticipate and prepare, the intensity of grief is inevitable. Your photos are absolutely beautiful; your grandma looks so sweet and mischievous (was she? ;-)) as she twinkles at the camera frm amidst the sheets. I love her subtlety with G too – wonderful that they got some time together, and that you managed to capture it too. Sending you a virtual hug.

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