Tuesday, June 23, 2015

That's How Much I Love You

"I love you, Puddin"
"How much, Gama?"
"A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck-that's how much I love you"

This is a conversation that repeated itself over and over throughout my childhood.  I was the apple of her eye and she was my everything. She was soft and gentle and kind. She made me applesauce sandwiches and hand cut french fries. I gathered eggs and picked tomatoes, collards and okra.

She was my Gama. My maternal grandmother. And she took a piece of my heart with her when she was called home to Jesus so many years ago when I was only 16.

I can remember the call like it was yesterday. I had left the hospital in Richmond to return home to Virginia Beach because, quite honestly, I missed my boyfriend. I will forever regret that decision. Momma had remained in Richmond to make sure Gama's discharge went smoothly.

The phone rang. And I picked up the line in my parent's bedroom.

The memory is so vivid-sitting on the green leather chair next to the telephone table that also held an antique radio. All I heard was "she's gone, Momma's gone" (my Momma was talking to my Daddy about Gama).

I remember dropping the phone and running out of the house. It was dark out, a warm September night. I ran all the way to the park. I sat in the back of the pick up truck jungle gym and cried and cried and cried.

And then he was there. I don't remember how he knew I was there. Maybe I called him before I ran out of the house...that part is still a blur. But he was there. This boy-man who would become my husband. This teenager that somehow knew exactly what I needed. He put away his snarky humor and wrapped his arms around me. We sat in the back of that playground truck and wept together-me for the very new and fresh wound inflicted by the loss of Gama and he for the losses he had experienced in the past and never truly mourned.

I don't believe the pain of this kind of loss ever goes away. You move forward. You live life. But something is missing. A piece of you has been taken away with the passing of the one you love. I am sure I think of her daily. I am certain I have felt her loss acutely in many special moments in my life: graduation, my wedding, the birth of our children. I often think how nice it would be to just call her and say "I don't know what to do with this-what do you think?".

She was a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister. She was my Gama.

Expert seamstress, country cook, hobby farmer's wife, turkey-shooter, country woman, city girl, difficult, stubborn, beautiful, kind. She had impeccable taste (and her own personal buyer for Neiman-Marcus...for the love). She loved soft fluffy pillows and a down mattress-you could literally get lost in her bed. She was a survivor-living on kidney dialysis for many years before she passed (among a multitude of other health issues). Refusing to let that stop her from enjoying her life.

But most importantly she loved me. Unconditionally. Always.

A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.

Until we meet again, Gama. I love you to the moon and back.