Monday, February 3, 2014 — This column appeared in the Jan. 26, 2014 print edition of The Stanly News & Press.
I believe in coincidences.
In times of crisis, it is comforting to think of good things, coincidental things, that seem to go together, as Forrest Gump would say, “like peas and carrots.”
My grandma died Tuesday night. She had been to the doctor late that afternoon and her vital signs were good. Then she was gone around 11 p.m.
I think back to the past week and many puzzle pieces come together.
I know I didn’t visit her as often as I could have, but there’s not a lot an 88-year-old woman and a man of my age have in common other than bloodline.
Well, we do have a few things.
We like sweets. I find myself eating more than I should considering I’m the child of two diabetics and the grandson of a diabetic.
But for Grandma, sweets didn’t seem to faze her. She could not get enough to satisfy her sweet tooth, yet she had no weight problem, no signs of diabetes and other than being a breast cancer survivor and outlasting a broken hip, she had always been in good health.
They say nothing is as American as apple pie. In my childhood years and probably long before that, Grandma was known for her apple pie. We always had to take home a piece or two or half an apple pie when we visited Grandma’s house.
So it seems poetic that Mom decided to make an apple pie Sunday. I can’t remember the last time she made an apple pie, seeing as how she doesn’t like apple pie that much, just like it says in Jimmy Dean’s song “I.O.U.”
It was Wednesday of last week when I last saw Grandma, and it was fate as well, I guess. I was the one selected to fix her television. The cable box needed rebooting and she never could get it to work right. So I went in and worked my magic. She seemed fine and greeted me at the door with her walker.
When I had the television fixed, she asked, “How much I owe you?” I said, “I’ll send you my bill.” She knew I was joking, but now I wonder if I should have taken payment in the form of a hug. But I didn’t want to give Grandma any germs. We have been cautious to keep her from outside settings to keep her well.
Which leads to the next coincidence. One of my favorite aunts — I have so many — took Grandma to her favorite restaurant Friday night. She loved to go to Blue Bay, I think for the people watching as much as the food. Again, we didn’t really want to get her out in the cold or in flu season, but looking back we’re glad she got to enjoy it one last time, with someone she had grown to love so much.
If Grandpa would have been alive, they would have celebrated their 70th anniversary this year. Grandma would be turning 89. She lived a little more than 18 years after him and still spoke of him often.
They loved the Ridgecrest community and visiting with their neighbors. Whether it was an event at the fire department or an activity at Ridgecrest Presbyterian, Grandma and Grandpa always seemed to be there. Grandma was one of the last veteran members of that community.
They are no doubt taking a buggy ride or enjoying a horseback ride right now. Possibly to the tune of “Filipino Baby,” which was their song.
So, wherever you are up there, Cowbay Copas, play it for Grandma.
B.J. Drye is editor of The Stanly News & Press. Send comments or story ideas to bj@stanlynewspress. com or PO Box 488, Albemarle, NC 28002.