On Thanksgiving night, you watched me blow out the candles on my 25th birthday cake. As soon as the song ended and I closed my eyes to blow them out, you exclaimed,
“MAY THE LORD SEND HIM THIS YEAR!”
My husband. My future husband. You asked the Lord to send my life partner. (Thanks a lot for saying it out loud, because now it’s a bust).
And this is why I love you.
You say ridiculous, amazing, hilarious things that make us shake our heads and roll with laughter.
You say profound, life giving things, too. Every Friday when we talk on the phone at 4. You console me. You comfort me. You love me.
Remember when for over a year you were following the wrong Jenna Wiley on twitter? That was the best.
Remember the time(s) I “ran away” from home and showed up on your front door? Running away was a pretty common occurrence for me, and very dramatic since you and I lived four houses away through those troubled teenage years.
Once I tried to escape the tyranny that was my parents’ house, but you weren’t home, so I sat defiantly on your porch as the minutes passed and I fumed about how no other 15 year old had to go through what I was going through.
You and I bonded through those angsty, dramatic, tear-filled years, and a decade later, now that I have realized my mom actually is NOT the source of every problem in my world and my parents weren’t constantly creating schemes to make my life miserable, our bond is still there.
I was absolutely ridiculous. You still listened. I don’t know how you didn’t laugh when I sobbed about getting grounded after prom. I didn’t even do those things I got in trouble for.
You took pity on me, the middle daughter, who never lacked attention but always thought she did. You were intentional about our relationship and careful with my heart.
You watched me play the saxophone in middle school band concerts, and I will not apologize for that because I was darn good at the saxophone and I still am.
I got dressed up for our birthday dinners and we went to Cracker Barrel on school nights. I got to order a drink and get all the attention. I thought I was the coolest kid in the world.
Remember Thanksgiving of 1999? When all 12 of us were violently food poisoned by the turkey from hell? You and Grandpa had to go to the hospital, and I spent my tenth birthday puking with my head in a toilet. 15 years later, you told us what happened. We will never let you forget, make fun of you for it and consequently, I haven’t eaten turkey since.
I remember the smell of your Silver mini van. To me, it means road trips and Grandpa’s driving. Remember when dad’s boat went through the back of your van? I would have paid money to watch his reactions. Dad’s reactions are the best.
As the years have gone by, sometimes you and grandpa don’t hear us ring the doorbell. You are all cozy in the back sunroom, laying down with a book and Grandpa is watching ESPN, muted. I never understood how you don’t hear the doorbell, since Grandpa never has the sound on the TV. Also, what is the point of watching TV without sound?
You have had the same candy variety at your house for 25 years. Assorted tootsie rolls. I will never eat a lemon flavored tootsie and not think about you.
I remember the first time we found out you had tongue cancer. Your doctor told you that after the surgery you may never talk again. Many people don’t.
We prepared for the worst, but 3 weeks later, somehow, you were chatting away.
I can’t say I was surprised. You’re a fighter. And you love to talk.
15 years ago, you promised your 6 granddaughters that you would live to at least 90, and that you would grow your hair out, throw it in a pony tail and drive around in a red corvette. We’ve got quite a few years until then, it’s not even close to the time you even should start growing your hair out.
I know you got bad news today, Gram. I know you are tired and weary and don’t want to have to fight again, but if anyone is a warrior, it’s you.
Not a lot of people can say their Gram is one of their closest confidants and dearest friends, and I consider myself blessed beyond measure for the ways you have spoken into my life. You are a woman of great faith, and it’s okay to be scared.
I’m scared, but I know my God is great and I can’t possibly imagine He is even close to having you finish your work here, but we put our trust in Him.
I love you. You’re pretty much my favorite person and you will never be alone. Fight hard for us. I’ll talk to you tomorrow at 4.
You told me I am going to write a book one day. So you gotta be around to read it.