She stood about 5 foot 2 and would threaten to “cut” you just as quick as she would speak to you. If you were a child, the cut would come in the form of one of those switches that reached down the hall and across a room. If you were an adult and dared say or do anything offensive, the cut could originate from the switchblade tucked safely in her bra, along with countless other things we dare not mention.
This little firecracker was my maternal grandmother, Glen Adams Crosskey. She can be credited with a generous portion of who I am today. I have so many memories of my grandmother, from us tending to her garden to silently watching the evening news. I could always tell the things that really bothered her because she would recount the story over and over and over again. At the time, I wished she would just let it go. Today, I would give almost anything to hear her voice telling those same stories as she sat in her chair and dipped her snuff.
My grandmother was not a pretentious woman. She believed in treating everyone right, until they crossed her and then you could hang it up. No one ever had to wonder where they stood with her because despite her petite stature, she stood tall against any man or woman. She was never overly concerned with material things but valued her peace and solitude. I can still hear her humming those old hymns as she pressed our cloths or watered her plants.
My grandmother was not a perfect woman. She was the mother of eight children and I imagine she did not grow up in a very affectionate family because she rarely displayed her emotions toward her children or even to my grandfather. In fact, she and he slept in separate beds most of my life which often caused me to wonder where those kids came from. She was brutally honest which I am sure caused some hurt feelings along the way. Despite these tendencies, I never wondered how she felt about me or if she loved me. As I got older and realized that she wasn’t the touchy feely type, I would go out of my way to hug on her and kiss her cheek. I could tell she liked it by the sly smile that would cross her face.
A friend suggested I start this “Reflections” series to share people and experiences that made me into the person I am today. I can easily confess the tears are flowing freely down my cheeks as I remember the woman who raised me from infancy and told me “to get a good education so that I don’t have to depend on anyone”, “always have some money saved for a rainy day, because it will rain one day”, and “don’t ever be too proud that you start looking down on anyone.”
The day we buried my grandmother, I could not imagine living one more day. I could not imagine continuing to go through life without knowing she was somewhere doing something. I know death all too well, as a result of being from a very large and extended family, but for some reason I never thought it would come between me and my grandmother. I took for granted that our days together were numbered and foolishly assumed I would never have to say goodbye.
I am thankful for the time we had together and the many life lessons that she taught me. But, I have to wonder if a part of me died with her because I don’t know if I have the capacity to love anyone else as deeply and unconditionally knowing the weight of the lose waiting at the end…