Dear Grandma Z and Grandpa Joe,
I find myself thinking of you often. It’s been over 12 years since I last heard your voices. It feels like so long ago and yet just like yesterday. So many things have changed and I wish I had more time to learn from you as an adult.
Grandpa Joe- I see you in my dad and uncles. It’s uncanny how each of them looks like you, holds your posture, and often wears suspenders. I hear your jokes when my mother leans her had back and laughs and laughs, like the moments she called you “Joe-Joe” and you would have some witty or cantankerous comment back to her. I see you at the counter buying lottery tickets… hoping to win big again. I see your smile and handshake as you greet former constituents and parishioners either being addressed “Mayor Joe” or “Deacon Joe.”
Grandma Z- I see your soulful eyes and the dark circles beneath them and think of raising 7 kids, burying 1, and being married to Grandpa for over 60 years. I hear your no-nonsense comments and remember all that you overcame in the Depression, working as a nurse during WWII, getting wooed by Grandpa when he was a sailor on leave, and raising your children through the week on your own. I smell your Aquanet hairspray from your freshly set hair. Anytime I put a tissue in my pocket, I think of how you’d pull one out if I needed it in church followed by an orange tic-tac.
There are days that go by that I don’t think of you. But then something small will trigger memories and thoughts of you. Recently it was putting a puzzle together on your old coffee table. That walnut coffee table is still as sturdy as when your grandchildren climbed or laid on it.
I often wish and imagine visiting your house on Bluebird Drive, introducing John to you, and the conversations we’d have about the world and politics. I tell John, “I’m sure Joe & Judy would’ve loved you. Grandpa Joe would offer you a beer- Budweiser of course. Grandma Z would question you and give you her honest opinion whether you asked for it or not. But eventually, she’d nod and accept you and probably offer you fresh cookies or candy from the crisper drawer.”
How would you react to this pandemic? You both were always adamant about doing your civic duty by voting and that jury duty was part of that right. Should I be doing more? Or is staying in my civic duty currently? I wonder if you would think back to your younger years when the world was at war with one another. Would you view this as the new arms race? Is this a time that the US should mobilize and work together to help find a vaccine and create materials for health care workers? I wonder how you’d react to mass being canceled. Grandpa, would you still go and give communion to others? Grandma, would you get tired of watching golf? Would you hunker down and would you worry about others?
But then I remember, you’d be okay as long as you were together. And that makes me think about my own relationships. I’m okay because I’m with John. And I’m okay knowing that you’re no longer physically with me, but you’re in my heart and mind whenever I need you.