My grandmother passed away on Sunday.
Grandma had a knack for growing things. She raised a family that started with nine amazing kids and then grew to include multiple generations of creative, compassionate, and colorful individuals. But in addition to keeping our big family alive and thriving, she also nurtured her natural surroundings. Her yard was always bursting with the vibrancy of zinnias, cosmos, lillies, irises, and azaleas. Tenderly watering, weeding, harvesting, sharing, and doing it season after season. Some of my favorite moments with my grandmother were spent puttering around the yard with her. Asking her questions about different plants, gathering seeds and cuttings for my own little gardens, and picking homemade bouquets. She'd always bring bits and pieces into the house...little vases or jars with freshly cut flowers to brighten up the kitchen table or fancy up the sink.
I got the call from my mom while checking out at the commissary. Loading milk onto the conveyor belt and trying not to cry, I started walking out of the the door until I realized the cashier was trying to tell me I had forgotten to pay. It all just felt so strange and disorienting. Driving home, I pulled over on the side of the road to pick a bouquet of flowers for her. Purple wildflowers and rice-like grasses which I put into a vase my sister made for me when she was in high school. While I was arranging them, Camille came running through the front door with her own little additions of flowering thyme and orange flowers from our own yard.
I know Grandma would have liked that.