But, when I got there I rode up the elevator with my cousin who had arrived at the same time. He said, “It’s crazy…I was just talking to her and she was doing better.” I had spoken to her two days prior on Easter. And then, I meant to call her the next day, but she was supposed to be going to the rehab and I didn’t find out until late that night, too late to call, that they had changed her transport to Tuesday. So, I said, “I’ll call her when she gets settled in. I’ll wait for my mom to tell me she’s settled in and then I will talk to her.” My mom talked to her and my aunt. My grandmama was as feisty as usual, telling my aunt to leave my mom alone because it was her and my dad’s anniversary, but mom said she hadn’t gone to River Chase yet, so I didn’t call.
Then, mom called, and told me to call my sister on three-way…I have used the words heartbroken before to describe a feeling that some guy had caused, but when I turned the corner of that hospital and I asked my aunt to go speak to my Grandmama and then, my uncle told me she didn’t make it. The world literally felt like it stopped spinning, everything echoed, and I physically felt my heart break. Why didn’t I call her the day before? Why did I wait so long to leave? Why didn’t I drive faster? I just wanted to say goodbye. When I saw her, it looked like she was sleeping. She looked so peaceful, which was comforting because I had seen her suffer for months. My grandmama has 16 grandchildren and scores of great grandchildren. I was so saddened that my children would never get to meet her. I wouldn’t get to hear them call her Grandmama.
I don’t know what everyone else’s experience was with my Grandmama, but I know that she taught me love: kind love, patient love. She was my buddy. Every summer she would come to visit and I would help my mom take care of her. We would have the best three-word conversations ever; Grandmama was not a big talker. I love to watch her face light up and her foot start tapping when I sang. She loved all of her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren no matter what we did or said. Sometimes, I couldn’t understand the love she showed. But, she didn’t really judge people. She remembered all of our birthdays every year. Sometimes I would just sit and hold her hand to let her know I was there.
It has been a year and it is still hard, but I know that absent from this world is present with the Lord. And now, she can see me and all of her other grandchildren because her eyes aren’t blind anymore. If I have children, she will be able to see them, too. Instead of just tapping her foot, she can get up and dance when I sing because her body is not ailing anymore. She can hear me loud and clear because her ears are cleared up. I didn’t get to say goodbye, but my last words to her were I love you and I will talk to you later. And, I will talk to her later and see her later. It hurts, but the pain is no longer unbearable. What I can say is that you should always make sure the people you love know that you love them. I know my Grandmama loves me and she knows I love her. That knowledge helps in the bad times. I miss you, Grandmama Dorothine. Ms. EV
In loving memory of Dorothine Bates (December 25, 1935 - April 26, 2011)