Sunday, February 10, 2013

Meeting Grandma

After reconnecting with grandma in 1988 I talked to her on the phone or exchanged letters with her and learned about my dad’s family; he had 4 brothers and a sister.   She even sent a picture of herself and I stared at that picture to see a glimpse of my dad.  Life was great having grandma back in it.  Part of me wanted to understand what had happened, why so many years had passed since we had talked, part of me didn’t want to broach the subject.  I didn’t want to sound accusatory to my grandma since I had just found her.  Yet, the kid in me who still hurt from her dad’s sudden and unexpected departure from her life didn’t know if grandma realized how much I had needed and missed her being in my life.  Since then, I have come to accept that life is just not that black and white.
       In 1995 I decided to plan a trip to visit my grandma.  I had wanted to before but it never worked out due to schooling or money.  At this point in my life I had finished school and had a stable paying job, now seemed the best time.  A work connection helped me to get a good deal on a flight and car rental and I sent a letter off announcing my intended visit.  I was excited for my adventure the day of the flight, with packed bags my ride to the airport came and soon I was in the air Chicago bound.  Landing in the hustle and bustle of Midway airport was a little daunting.  Unfamiliar places, sounds and activities were giving me anxiety, I wasn’t sure which way to go and eventually found my way to the car rental.  Armed with a map I sat for a moment in the car and thought what am I doing, am I ready for this?  I took a deep breath and headed into Chicago traffic.  Finally out of Chicago and driving south towards Thomasboro I’m excited and elated to be in the same area as my family has lived.  Traveling down the road I’m looking across the fields of farmland.  Soaking in the environment, looking west and seeing the horizon of the sky, only the mountains are missing, but the area surrounding me doesn’t seem so bad.  I make it into Thomasboro and locate my grandma’s house.  I drive up, no one’s home.  I call - nothing.  Eventually I go find a place to stay for the night, eat and take one more drive by grandma’s.  Still no one.  I find it odd, I had written to her letting her know I’d be visiting her on this date.  Maybe’s she’s just out later than expected.  With nothing else to do, I head back to the hotel and wait until morning to try again.  After breakfast, the next day, again no answer at the door, no cars, no calls answered.  I start to wonder if she had gone out of town before getting my letter, or if something else had happened.
       Close to my grandma’s is a gas station, I go inside, ask for a telephone book and look up one of my uncles who is supposed to live in the area.  My hands start to tremble as I’m dialing the number; I’m hoping this is the right person.  “Hello.”  “Hi, is this Tom?” “Yes” “Is your mom Anna” “Yes” “This is Mary from Colorado.  I was wondering if you knew where she was?”  “Mary, I’m glad you called, we just found your letter a few days ago and tried to call but you had already gone.  Grandma passed away in October.  She hadn’t been feeling well and went in to the hospital.”  Hearing this, my knees got weak, I trembled and when I responded it was so hard to keep the tears out of my voice.  Once the words came out that she was gone I wanted to hang up, I felt light-headed.  I mustered up some willpower finished the call and got into the bathroom before I broke down.  I wept behind that locked door for a very long time.  I had waited too long and missed my chance to see my grandma.  A few hours later I went and met my uncle and his wife.  He shared with me some family history, but didn’t really know a lot about his grandparents.  He gave the address to my aunt and another uncle.  Even though I didn’t get to see my grandma, I still got my family and have made some wonderful discoveries since.

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