Pondering the Pavement

April 1, 2018

Reasons Resonate

Filed under: Uncategorized — cfilius @ 4:44 am

My thoughts have been with my grandmother for the past few days. I’ve always blamed her for being the catalyst behind my meanderings with the other side. My first recognized premonition (by me, anyway) was of her upcoming passing. I didn’t realize it at the time. It was just a seemingly random thought. On a Thursday night, like any other, I glanced around the living room at my grandparents and mother and thought oh-so-nonchalantly, “I wonder what it would be like around here if one of them died?” Within 24 hours my grandmother would be killed in a freak car accident.

A few months after her physical passing I began realizing she may have been dead but she sure wasn’t “gone”. Not by a long shot. I would wake up in the middle of the night to see her staring at me from the foot of my bed. She didn’t speak—she just stared. Then she’d disappear. I would hear her laugh—a genuinely disturbing cackle that would make Margaret Hamilton green with envy (see what I did there?). I would hear her calling out my name from her bedroom at the end of the hall. She was opening doors, moving objects. And I was the only one privy to her activity. Lucky me.

I had a lamp on the wall above my bed. I would often read before going to sleep. Many times I would fall asleep reading. I would then be harshly awakened by my mother screaming at me from the top of her very powerful lungs. She would spew an insane, rambling lecture on how much money I was wasting by having that 40 watt bulb burn throughout the night. We were surely headed to financial ruin for my wasteful ways. Then there would be a lecture on how her entire family lived by one lone candle during the 1920’s. So, one night, when Mom was out late at some meeting, I was curled up reading a riveting paperback documenting the all-too-real adventures of The Partridge Family at a haunted inn. And, shocking as it may seem, I fell asleep. I was jerked awake—literally—when “someone” grabbed my ankle and pulled my leg harshly. My grandfather was downstairs and Mom still wasn’t home. So, thanks to my grandmother, I was spared another Depression Era Lecture. She got far more exercise in the afterlife than she ever saw here.

March 30, 1973, started out normally in my abnormal household. The meat of the sandwich of the day has faded from memory but the bread holding it together on either end is as vivid as if it happened yesterday. Mom and I were about to embark on our routine daily venture: she would drive me to school (God forbid I be out of her sight for anymore than necessary) then she would head on to her bean-counting position in a company across town. A job, I believe, she had held since the Lincoln Administration.

I buttoned up my winter coat as my mother was clumsily slipping on her galoshes. The weather wasn’t unusually cold nor had it been raining. She was just being her normally suspicious self. “You never know when it may freeze,” she’d say to anyone within earshot of her rambling paranoia. This always bothered me whenever she’d spout it off in mid-July. As mom started to open the front door, my grandmother hollered down to us from the upstairs hallway. “What’s for breakfast?” she asked.

“Eggs!” Mom answered. “How do you want them? Sunny side up?” She howled with delight as she said it. I stared at her blankly. I probably rolled my eyes but I can’t swear to it. I did that a lot at that age. It was a Pavlovian response: mom’s mouth moved, my eyes rolled.

“No,” my grandmother replied. “I want them rainy-side down!” I laughed at that one. It was too absurd to not offer up a guffaw or two. What makes it stick with me after 45 years is that those were the last words I ever heard my grandmother utter in the physical. It’s just fitting that my last memory of her is connected to a really bad joke. Synchronicity at its best.

notebookLast year, after my mother finally died, I had the daunting task of clearing out the house of a woman who saved everything from receipts for furniture we haven’t owned in over 30 years to her own virginity. Among the many pieces yearning to be in their own small town car-port Smithsonian, I found a small spiral bound notebook that had belonged to my grandmother. It had been among the things she had in her purse at the time of the fatal crash. Scrawled in her familiar hand on the 3rd page were these words: “For Ever Helping Others.” Nothing else. Just that one lone sentence. I have no idea why she had this bit of philosophy with her at the time of her passing. I don’t even know why she wrote it. But there it was, all the same, with no official rhyme or reason. But it sure resonates, lemme tell ya.

She is the one who dropped kicked me on my path in the very beginning. And, after all these years, she’s still driving the point home. She was one tenacious old lady, let me tell ya. And there’s no reason for me to believe she’d change now.

Rest in Peace, Mamaw. And thanks.

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