A Century

It feels like years and years since I last posted on here. And it has been several months, but it has been a year in terms of all that I have experienced. I had a new job for the summer and went back to the old one (Yay, seasonal work!), I went on an epic adventure in the UP, I saw friends lose their jobs, I drew further away from God and I drew closer. Most recently, I lost my last remaining grandparent.

Mary Francis Ripp.

It’s a bit surreal to realize that I have no grandparents left. It’s incredibly surreal to realize that, 6 months ago, when I kissed her goodbye the day after my grandpa’s funeral, was the last time I would kiss that wrinkly smiley old face. My cousin kissed her forehead at the wake. I couldn’t do that. What was in that coffin was no more her than a wool blanket is a sheep. I touched her hands, wrapped in her well worn rosary, and felt her shell, but she was gone. And the only thing this facsimile was there for was to give me closure. It helped, but what helped more was talking with my family, baking cookies in her kitchen, and looking at old photos. I learned so many things about grandma that I wish I had known while she was still alive. Like how she did a variety show act for at least six years to help raise money for my dad and uncles’ school.From left to right: my dad, me, Grandma, my cousin Katelyn, Great Grandma Jenkins, my uncle Tony

One thing I did know about grandma was that she liked to nag/speak loudly, but not at everyone, just grandpa. (She always was nice to the grandkids, grandparents are supposed to spoil you, right? 😉 She said she talked to him like that because he couldn’t hear very well anymore. I think she just wanted things her way and didn’t mind nagging to get it. Yesterday, the day of grandma’s funeral was the the feast of the Queenship of Mary. The priest thought this was appropriate, considering Grandma’s opinionated nature. And she certainly had her castle and her throne. In recent years, I rarely saw her out of her chair in the living room. She sat on her throne and all of us peasants came calling on her. But sometimes she was so hard on grandpa that it was hard to imagine that she loved him anymore…until he died. I only talked to her a few times after that, but every time I did talk to her she told me that he wasn’t supposed to leave her so soon.

This year would have been their 57th anniversary. When he died, her home was empty and her day was off kilter, it wasn’t like she lost her “other half”, it was like she lost her very life. Her official cause of death was a heart attack, but everyone else says she died of a broken heart. When she gets into heaven, one of my uncles said that the first thing she would do is walk up to grandpa and say, “Larry, you jackass! Why did you leave me so soon?!” I can see it too, in my mind’s eye, grandma, all love and sass, rolled into one, grandpa calm and quiet listening to grandma and probably fixing something.

That sounds a lot like heaven to me.

 

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