Beth, one of my Oregon granddaughters loves spicy dills, so now I have a special treat for her when she comes.
McRae and Wyatt are such splendid little boys - so sweet and fun. You're doing a good job with them.
Come see me -
Lake Stevens 10-09-00
It comes in waves, the sobs. It's only been a half an hour and the sobs come and go unexpectedly, haphazardly, willy nilly with no direction. One minute they are there, and the next they are gone.
She was - IS - my Grandma Dorie. Not a blood relative Grandma, but a Grandma just the same. She was - IS - the whole neighborhood's Grandma, always offering an open door (and heart, and mind, and garden) to all of the kids who came to visit her. And visit I did. As many times a week as she would allow.
It all started picking snap peas in her garden.
I thought I had found a magical, special place that grew vegetables only for my friend Amy and I to pick.
And then she caught us.
No scolding, no yelling, no "You can't pick my vegetables!" Oh no. Instead a kind introduction, and an invitation to visit with her whenever we felt like it. I'm sure she'd already cleared this with our parents, as she was - IS - a pillar of etiquette and manners.
We would gather on her sofa and listen to her tell stories about everything. Her life. Her grandchildren. The latest book she was reading. How to bake bread or how to catch a fish off her dock. She once invited us down to the sand in front of her house to watch fireworks on the lake. I saw the biggest catfish I've ever seen off the end of her dock as I sat there one day dipping my toes in the cool water.
She listened. Who knows and can even remember what dominated my conversation when I was a child, but she listened with rapt attention as if what I was saying was the most important thing in the world.
She still does that. Listens.
Every year for Halloween she scared the crap out of us.
She dressed up in a ghoulish mask, cloaking her fine clothing in dark robes. She would turn off her porch lights making the long walk up her narrow, tree-lined driveway even creepier. And when you knocked on the door, she'd make noise with a hand-held noisemaker and then scare you to death. I was always certain that it was never really her under that mask.
And then she'd hand out full sized candy bars.
And you'd forgiver her...until next Halloween.
She did this over and over, year after year, never disappointing the children of the neighborhood. When my own children were old enough for trick or treating, I brought them to her house for the very first time and again, she did not disappoint.
"You mean you came here when you were a little girl and Grandma Dorie did the same thing to you?" They asked me.
"Yes she did," I would answer, "Isn't she fabulous."
And then they would walk away with their full sized candy bars, grins as big as ever plastered on their faces and eager for next year when they could do it all over again.
I can't imagine Halloween without her.
And it looks like I am going to have to. She is in that space now, where her body is broken and done, and all I can do is pray with every bone, every cell, every fiber of my being that she is not in any pain. Her family, her blood relatives, are by her side and she got to meet her newest great granddaughter recently. She would hate it if anyone made a fuss over her. She would not have it.
But these damn sobs, they catch me, they take my breath and hold it hostage.
I just can't imagine Halloween without her.
I should have gone to see her more.