In Memory of You
Needless to say, I dedicate this story in loving memory to my grandmother Ann LeRoy. Without you, this story would never need to be told.
"And I'm sure the view from Heaven,
Beats the hell out of mine here.
And if we all believe in Heaven,
Maybe we'll make it through one more year,
Chapter 1 - A Prologue of Sorts
I shivered as the wind howled and rain lightly pelted against my sweater. I knew Grandma wouldn't let me hear the end of it if she had seen me like this. I guess that's why I wore my unfitting attire for a November 11th morning in Rochester, New York. She wasn't there to do it anymore. Instead, she was inside that brown box.
The person I idolized was gone, at peace, and set to be lowered six feet under with her husband. I never got to meet Grandpa, but Grandma always said he would have loved me, and she always spoke highly of him. Finally, for the first time in over 30 years she would be with him once more.
I shivered again and tried to laugh a little. I knew exactly what Grandma would have said to me before I even left the house. "Matthew, get a coat on." I would have replied, "But Grandma, it's not that bad out." And she would've given me one of her looks, slammed her cane or walker down emphatically, and simply pointed out, "It's cold out there you damn fool."
I gazed out over the horizon to see my high school in the background. It reminded me of my days as a child going to visit Grandma there with Mom. It reminded me that it was her place of work for a good 20 years as a lunch monitor. Not bad for a Canadian who dropped out of school at 14 to get away from her alcoholic father.
But anyways, I found it fitting that she was laid to rest where most of her memories, well at least for my entire life, occurred. Now she could tell Grandpa all of them, since he had waited for her there. I also found it strange how I wasn't in that school. I was on the outside looking in too. But then again, it was Veteran's Day, we didn't have school. This leaves me to wonder if Grandma's gift to Grandpa was to come to him on that day, for he was a Veteran himself. Hell, it left me to wonder if she had planned this all along. I know she didn't, but the fact that she died at 2am Sunday Morning gave me a chance to still go to school Monday, and not miss Thursday because we had it off. She was sly like that.
But yes, I shivered again. I looked around. I saw everyone from my past, present, and future at the gravesite. They were all upset. I should've been too. I know Grandma would've been if it was any one of them. I stole a quick glance at Dad. I had only seen him cry once before that; it was when one of his grandmothers from his parent's side who had passed away, he was teary-eyed the next morning. But this time I glanced over, and I did see the tears, I did see the emotion he always hid. To this day, I've only seen him cry once more, and that was when he gave me the keys to my first car when I turned 18. At that point, I knew how much Grandma meant not only to Dad, but to the world.
Yet I still didn't cry. Being quite a whiney emo-child, I found this odd. But all I could do is smile at the memories. All I could do is laugh at the past, and the fact that Grandma used to always say, "One day I'm going to be looking down at you and I'll be laughing at you." Whenever Mom and I would poke fun at her. I knew she was now. From this point on, she would laugh at me; look down at me, and inside yell at me for doing stupid things like not wearing a coat to her funeral.
I guess that's why I didn't wear one. I know it'd piss her off. It wasn't that I liked to piss her off, or that I felt like I could do whatever I wanted now, I just knew she was watching, and I wanted her to know that I knew she was. After all, I had a unique connection that no one else had with her. Everyone knew I was her favorite Grandson, favorite relative and favorite friend. She always loved to talk about me, and she always loved to talk to me.
Grandma was a tricky woman, oh yes she was indeed. And I know she loves having the power to play around with me now, just like I had always done to her. It figures that her first plan of attack was to have this friend of my uncle named Terry forget about me when he was mentioning family members at the funeral. He was a very religious man, and played the religious figure at the funeral. He mentioned my older cousin Chad, and my younger one Brandon, but naturally her forgot her favorite Grandson named Matthew. I didn't mind, I didn't take offense to it. I knew Grandma had made him do it, so it didn't bother me at all. In the afterlife, the score was 1-0 in favor of Grandma.
The rain began to fall a bit harder now, and the clouds grew greyer. The only thing left to do was put the roses we held on the casket. I had been last in a lot of things in life, but there were two things I was happy to be the last to do. First, earlier that day, before we closed the casket and had to move it into the Hurst, I was the last family or friend to see Grandma. I wanted her to know that I'd never forget her, so I wanted to be the last person that she knew to see her. And second, I was determined to be the last person to put a rose on her casket. Right on top, just where she would've liked. I kissed it, gently placed it on the casket, and whispered, "I love you, Grandma."