Dear Grandma, You’ve Been Gone Twenty Years Today

Photo by Mary Ellen Quigley (from her personal collection)

It doesn’t seem right that you have been gone longer than I had you. So much has changed in twenty years. I wonder if you would even recognize the world we live in now.

Gone is the quiet life you lived. The world now is ruled by technology. People are glued to their cell phones and computers, and it’s hard for most of us to keep up with how fast things are changing. I’m not sure you would have liked any of this very much.

There were so many things I didn’t tell you, and I wonder every day if you knew. Did you know you were my favorite person growing up? That I couldn’t wait to see you? That I could never possibly put into words how much I loved spending time with you?

No matter how crazy life got, I always felt safe with you and Grandpa. There was something about your house that I could never explain when someone asked why I loved it so much. People would ask my favorite place to go on vacation, and I would say Grandma and Grandpa’s house. As soon as I walked in, I felt comfortable, loved, and free. It was a safety I took for granted, and I tried so hard to find it again after you passed away.

You always made me feel special. Even if my accomplishment was small, it was a big deal to you. I tried extra hard in school to get good grades and make the honor roll because I wanted to be able to show you my report card. You pushed me to try hard and do my best. You listened to all of my crazy stories back when I first decided I wanted to write a book in middle school. You even kept all of the crafts I made you when I was little. I know because we found them in a box after you died. Somehow you managed to make every single one of us grandkids feel like your favorite, even though I know you loved us each equally. I don’t know how you pulled it off!

My happiest memories are times spent with you. Going to the park. Playing out in your yard. Teaching me how to needlepoint. When I got a little older, it was the long talks we would have in the kitchen. You and Grandpa used to walk through the garden with me and talk about all the fruits and vegetables. Did you know I love to garden because of that?

Remember how I always told you I was going to grow up and move to White Hall? That isn’t exactly where life took me. I didn’t travel to Paris. Teaching wasn’t my calling. It turns out the girl who loathed math has a job playing with spreadsheets and numbers all day, and it’s perfect for me. While life didn’t turn out as planned, it is a good life. It’s one I hope you would be proud of. As for White Hall? It didn’t take me long to realize that what I loved most about the place was you. The town is full of beautiful memories, and I love to go back and visit.

I promised you before you died that I would name my first daughter after you if I had one. I’m sorry to say I didn’t. I have not been blessed with any children, and ovarian cancer has taken my ability to have biological children. I hope to someday adopt, and if possible, I will keep my promise by naming an adopted daughter after you. I hope you don’t mind.

I’m not angry at you for leaving me anymore. I was for a while. I couldn’t understand why you seemed to give up, and why you couldn’t get past the depression that racked you after Grandpa passed away. I wanted you to stay. I couldn’t imagine life without you in it. I get it now. There comes a time when your mind and your body are just too tired to fight anymore. You wanted to rest.

The family hasn’t been the same since you left. You were the glue that held us all together and without you, we fell apart. Mom was also never the same. She was more quiet and melancholy and remained that way until she passed. Everything changed and not for the better. I miss the way it was before.

I love you. I will always love you. Whether you have been gone twenty years or fifty years, as long as I am alive, you will be here. You are alive in my memories. You are alive in my heart. A lot of who I am comes from you, and because of that, you live on.

I don’t know what the next twenty years will bring. I’ll be 57 in twenty years, which is hard to even imagine. Time goes by so quickly. The one thing that remains is my love for you. I will forever be grateful that you were my grandmother.

Writer, YouTuber, Ovarian Cancer Survivor. Lover of good books, iced coffee & Jesus. Indiana girl. Find me online via my Linktree https://linktr.ee/maryquigley

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