Monday, January 25, 2010
This morning my Dad reminds me, "Today marks the anniversary of Grandmother Ida." "O, really...." I say awkwardly, like an idiot. My dad walks over to put dishes in the sink... I see his eyes begin to swell. I hear a sniffing sound. I just don't know what to say. I never knew her but I always felt the emptiness of where she would have been.
Today is a dark day for my family. Today marks the 32 year anniversary that my grandmother was taken from my family through a horrible act a violence.
When I see my dad struggle with tears.. I just want to squaw too.
My dad misses her. He struggles more with the absence of her than the matter in which she was taken... he has come to terms with that I believe.
For me, it is hard not to be angry and bitter. My father hurts. It makes me angry to see his heart broken, bitter that someone has caused this suffering for him.
It happened before I was born, even before my father met my mother. My father lived through a nightmare. He received a phone call that his mother had been kidnapped. Later her remains were found in an icy river.
I never remember not knowing of my grandmothers murder. I don't know details just bits and pieces that I was told and what I could pick up from ease dropping on "adult" conversation. The story I was told was always kept as PG13 as it could be.
When hearing the story I never asked questions. Even now as an adult when my father speaks of it, I don't ask, I just listen. I don't want to press him, I don't want to see the tears swell up in his eyes, though I do want to know. I want to know the details of her legacy but fear it as well.
I can never remember a time in my life that I didn't know of her.
She was beautiful, strong willed, hard headed, and demanding. All that I ever heard of her was affectionately speaking of course. She was an artist and dreamed of having a granddaughter. Out of six grandchildren I was the only granddaughter. I was always told "o' how your grandmother would have treasured you", "you have your grandmothers hard head and strong will", "your grandmother was christian as well and she believed in reincarnation just as you do too", "she loved to watch it rain also". Every time I heard these things I felt close to her. Like knowing her with out ever actually meeting her. It was like tracing the lines on her face with out actually touching her skin. I felt proud to be compared to her.
Her death paved a way for my family. At an early age I knew of her death because my parents wanted to protect me. I was told what to do if anyone ever tried to take me "scream, kick, bite, fight, run, no matter what they say, no matter what the threats. Never stay quiet". I never talked to strangers or answered the doors or phones when my parents weren't home. I steered clear of people I didn't know. As a child I always had my guard up. When I would go to the grocery store I would watch people, steering clear of people who avoided eye contact or people who kept their hands in their pockets... I am not sure why I zeroed in on those specific people. I made up my own set of rules for safety I suppose.
As an adult I politely speak with strangers but have a particular uncomfortableness about strangers approaching me. I don't like small talk at the gas pumps. I hate for people to walk directly behind me. I was taught early to watch out, to be safe.
Her legacy wasn't her death but the life after her death. Her legacy wasn't just safety. In fact safety is just a tiny bit of her legacy. Her death brought love to an entire new level. My family never ends a phone conversation without saying I love you. Up until my brother moved out of the house we kissed each other good night and said I love you. This is from child hood, every night; prayers hugs and kisses goodnight. Growing up this was so odd to my friends but very normal for my family. A close knit thankful family is the legacy.
I check on my kids several times a night as they sleep, sometimes from worry, mostly because I like to watch them sleep. Their safety presence and love I am thankful for. You never know when it is all going to be over. You should live life to the fullest... Love to the fullest.
Every day my grandmothers presence is remembered, we are reminded in the birds flying freely in the sky, the slow rumbling of a thunder storm, a beautiful painting, or a story from my fathers childhood. Every day we are reminded of her life but today is a reminder in which she was taken. Every year for 32 years a dark solemn day will remind us not of her presence but lack there of.
For those who knew her, her presence missed and for those who never knew her, her absence still felt.
*Song, Beatles- Here Comes the Sun