Wednesday, January 25, 1939
25th Day–340 Days to Follow
Mrs. Graves, Ronning, Davis, Stockton, Stewart, Kirchoff & I went to Mrs. Gilley’s to a quilting bee. We had roast, hot rolls, string beans, potato salad, Harvard beets, caramel dumplings with whipped cream, and pie. Had a grand time.
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Today was a day of good news and, hopefully soon, better news. A phone call sent me down south in search of a new outfit, and then I drove up the 99 toward my roommate’s parents’ place in Mukilteo for supper. Along the drive I rediscovered an Asian market I found when we first moved here, then lost again because I was convinced it was farther east. Silly, directionless newbie. I arrived at the house a bit early, so I was sent out again to get dessert for the four of us. J’s mom was busy making flatbread pizza, so I chose some pints of gelato, sorbet, and spumoni, with a biscotti kicker. The meal was delicious; a crispy fresh flatbread topped with shitaki and crimini mushrooms, onions, bits of ham, sun dried tomatoes, garlic and herbs.
We listened to Dad K talk about work, as J kept begging for more stories from his day. Over dessert we somehow returned to the topic of death, still fresh in their minds since Dad K’s father passed away in June. I added stories from my grandfather’s passing, nine years ago this April. It’s funny what gets said and what gets left out. How we learn so much from being frank and honest; how we feel camaraderie over shared experiences, especially if somewhat shameful or embarrassing. Tonight it was the all-too-candid reality of a recently deceased individual’s open mouth, and the urge to close it; the need to shield the living from that unattractive gape. How Mom K and I tried to close the grandfathers’ mouths, without success. How the one good and right thing my pastor did in the moment when she finally arrived to help us through mine’s passing was to offer, “Look – it’s as if he’s saying, ‘Wow.'”
It’s odd to think of this little boy, growing strong and ornery in the pages of Memo’s little green leather diary, and how not even 65 years later I, his second-oldest granddaughter, would walk into the room at the hospice center to his wife’s cries of “he stopped breathing!” How I stopped and listened, watched, and finally saw the reality of his no longer being. How I walked out to tell the nurse, then began making phone calls to family members. How later I would drop his hand to embrace my grandmother, and how I would regret not holding on to him a little longer.
It’s been a long time, with so many babies born he never knew, houses bought and sold, marriages begun and ended, degrees sought and obtained. But in so many ways I still feel like I’m still driving along the highway, rushing in the late afternoon sun of a mid-April Friday, trying desperately to arrive before he leaves.