Monday, February 23, 2009
My grandmother is on a journey. I hope there are French bikes in Heaven!
le paradis (pah-rah-dee) noun, masculine
: the gallery, the gods
le Paradis terrestre = the Garden of Eden
le paradis fiscal = tax haven
l'oiseau de paradis = bird of paradise
aller au / en Paradis = to go to Heaven
My Grandma Audrey passed away yesterday. My sister made the call and I could hear the news in her voice before the words were delivered.
"I tried to call her several times this week..." I answered.
"I did too," Heidi assured.
I thought about the nursing home, where my grandmother spent the last season of her life. I pictured a television on the wall, from which inspiration often struck her, at which point she would become the heroine from the latest show... or infomercial:
"I'm wearing my pretty white sundress," she told me, last time we talked on the phone. "We're having a beauty contest this afternoon--and *I* am in the running!"
"Do you think you'll win?" I asked, playing right along with this latest production, "The Nursing Home Beauty Contest".
"Oh, I'll give it my best shot!" Grandma said, and I could almost hear her smoothing down her "dress" in pride and admiration of it. But a sundress in snowy Salt Lake City? I could never tell, during one of these conversations, whether Grandma was pulling my leg or, more likely, living in her imagination. Her voice was always so clear, sprinkled with a touch of Southern Stubborn.
"She is in a better place now," my sister stated, comfortingly.
I have to believe that Heidi is right. Still, as I look into the mirror this morning, at the long face staring back at me, I find my faith faltering again.
"If I truly believed in Heaven," I reasoned, I wouldn't feel guilt or regret right now--but relief! I'd feel happiness for my grandmother...."
I am spending the morning renewing my faith, not because it comforts
me--but because faith is the "Instructions" book that guides me when I
don't know where to step, when I can no longer see....
I am picturing my beautiful grandmother in her flowing white sundress! Beyond a shadow of doubt, it's now clear to see that my Grandma Audrey won that beauty contest, yes siree!; plucked up as she was in the night -- right out of her nursery home bed in time to collect her prize--that golden crown: Heaven's glimmering halo over her head.
Post note: During a recent call to our grandmother, my sister wanted Grandma to be sure to know that Jesus was waiting for her, and that she, too, would see Grandma again one day. Grandma joked, "That's what they tell me."
Last night at the end of her telephone call, Heidi encouraged me to call our mom, with whom she had just shared the news. "Remember," Heidi said, "(Our) mom has lost her own 'Mommy'." That last word went right to the heart and I could almost see my mom's plump 5-year-old hand, reaching up to try and clasp her mother's, ever searching for that connection.
Now for a request: Because my mom, "Jules", and my family read this column--and each and every comment--I would like to once again ask you to send *virtual* flowers to the comments box--this time for my Grandma Audrey and also for her loved ones: Jules, my Aunt Reta, my Uncle Rusty... also for my sister, Heidi, and my cousin Mike.
Just pick a person & send a virtual fleur (i.e.: "tulips for Uncle Rusty from Rémi in Beaverton" or "kangaroo paw for Heidi from Gretel in Sydney" or "a magnolia for Aunt Reta from Fred & Nancy").
Click here to access the comments box (wait a few moments for it to load...), then instantly send in your flower.
With much appreciation (and dare I say love?) for bringing cheer to my family and me. I can't think of a better way to rendre hommage to Audrey. I hope you will agree.
Grandma Audrey with Jean-Marc (2005)
Visiting Jules, in Mexico (thank you, Mom, for the photos).
With all our love, Grandma!
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety