I took my kids to see my mother’s grave today. They weren’t able to travel for the funeral, so this was the first time they had ever seen the plot in which their beloved grandma’s body lay.
We’ve been in town for seven weeks, and they had asked me repeatedly to show them where Grandma is buried, but every time they asked I would tell them I didn’t feel like crying that day, and would add other excuses like, ‘The weather’s too cold,’ just for good measure.
Today the weather was still cold, but the elusive winter sun had made a rare appearance. More than that, I found myself void of any afternoon or evening commitments, which meant I could afford the red, swollen eyes and pulsating headache that inevitably accompanied shed tears.
So I took them.
We parked the car, and upon surveying the rows of tombstones, one of the kids asked, “Which one is hers?” – to which the youngest replied, “Just look for the one that says, ‘Grandma.’”
I felt the first stone drop heavily into the well of my empty heart.
Just look for the one that says, ‘Grandma.’
Of course he would think that. That’s who she was to him.
And oh, how she loved being that to him.
We found the stone that should say, “Grandma,” and without a word, my daughter walked her size 2 shoes over to a bordering pine tree. She carefully broke off a small bough of pine needles and laid it gingerly against the granite gravestone.
Without raising her eyes, she asked me, “Why do people put things by the graves? Is it like a gift to that person?”
“Usually it is a way of showing that you remember that person. Some people buy flowers and bring them to the cemetery in remembrance of someone they loved.”
She nodded and looked again at her freshly picked evergreen offering. Then, with a voice that revealed a maturity far beyond her years, she said softly, “I did the best I could.”