Saturday, December 11, 2010
Gramma and Grampa - Together at last
Rayford and Yonnie Stafek
My Dad called yesterday morning and told me that my Gramma had taken a turn for the worse and would probably not live through the weekend. She'd quit eating and drinking four days ago and for the last 24 hours, she'd only laid there and slept. I told Mike and my kids and planned to go over this morning after breakfast and say goodbye and Godspeed, hoping that she could hear me.
My plan failed because I had waited too long. I should have gone right away.
Just before going to bed last night, Dad called and said Gramma had passed. The coroner had been called but hadn't arrived yet, and if I wanted to come say goodbye, I'd better hurry.
I drove through tears to the place she spent her final hours, a lovely, well kept hospice home, freshly decorated for Christmas, that smelled of fresh pine boughs and Cinnamon.
I met my parents in the front room and after hugs and crying, I went into Gramma's room. They had put her teeth in and crossed her hands on her chest. She looked to be sleeping. I was able to spend about 20 minutes with her before they came to take her away. We left immediately, not wanting to watch.
My brothers, sister, and I, and one cousin, were VERY close to our grand-parents. Family, with all it's chaos and dysfunction, was the center of our lives.
Looking back through the years, and at my memories of Gramma, she was always cooking. Dinner, meats, gravy, homemade bread, jams, and pies. Always in the kitchen!
When we were kids in our early teens, we'd make the four hour trip to Salem, OR, for the weekend. In late summer, Gramma would give us all a little bucket, and Grampa would give us each a small piece of plywood, and we'd head down the pasture to the blackberry bush to pick berries for jam and cobbler.
Now, the blakberry bush was huge. As big as a house! It grew along the road and cover the fence. The fence was 15 feet below the level of the road. Standing on the road, the top of the bush was 20 feet higher than the road. The bush itself, was at least 80 feet in diameter. It had been there for as long as we could remember. We'd start at the road, and work our way out onto the bush, picking blackberries and fighting bees as we went, careful not to crest the top of the bush, because that would mean a 40 foot drop to the pasture below.
We'd spend hours picking berries, running up to the house to empty our buckets, then return to the bush to refill. The house would smell like cooking blackberries! We would bring home a box filled with "Gramma Jam".
The picture above is how I remember them always: Gramma smiling and open, Grampa almost embarrassed to be having his picture taken. They are together again at last.