You know I usually call you Inez (in my head) and that's what my father always calls you, but this is formal and for formality I shall address you by your title, Grandmother.
On Monday, Grandmother, I received a call from my father that I knew would come one day yet I was not prepared to ever hear.
After I listened to the voicemail my father left, I cried and shook at my desk.
I just asked him about you 2 days before. He just went to see you, sat with you and watched TV with you. You were fine.
I thought to myself Maybe you were sleeping without your hearing aid like you did about 2 years ago and didn't hear the bell. Maybe when he gets into your apartment, he'll find you were sleeping hard, he'll awaken you and everything will be fine.
My parents told me over and over again to be the bigger person and heal the relationship I had with you, bridge the gap and visit you, force myself to be the granddaughter that you never seemed to embrace. I kept questioning them and myself, how can I, 60 years your junior, be the bigger person?
Consciously and without regret, I kept my distance, always feeling that you didn't love your youngest grandchild like you loved your older grandchildren. And even though it's been a year since I called you, I have no regrets.
I love you, always did, though alienated.
I remember when you came over to help me dress for my junior high school prom. I remember how you steamed my dress and helped me with my jewelry. I know that me being thicker than my sister, you were more proud of her tall lean frame, but that night you helped me live out my princess fantasies without complaint.
I remember the day that I broke our decade long silence. Something was wrong with my father and I could feel it in my bones. I called his house and he didn't answer. I called every hospital in the Bronx, he wasn't in any. I called his job and they told me he was in the hospital. I called my mother who still had your number and then I called you. "He's in Cornell-Presbyterian", you told me, "And by the way, are you still fat?" I replied, "No Grandma, I'm skinny now" and knowing the truth, we both laughed.
Grandma, you weren't always the loving, affectionate grandmother. Maybe it is because I'm not tall and lean like Junior & Joanne. Maybe it's because I'm not a full-blooded Antiguan. I don't know why it is that you never welcomed me but you are a loving mother to my father.
When my father called me and told me to call him, it was important, Inez is dead. I cried and shook at my desk... for him. I cried because I mourn a woman I've always wanted but never got a real chance to know. I wanted to know your favorite hymns, your much loved scripture. I wanted to see you without your wig, touch your braids again. I wanted to see you in your favorite hat and hear your voice again. I cried because I knew my father is an only child and he loves you so much and you love him right back, fervently, and after having you for his 64 years, you have gone home to Glory.
In the 2 days since your death, I have been running around, exhausted, because my father is unable to run or focus or make decisions alone. I am finding myself learning more about you in these last 2 days than I knew in the 32, almost 33 years of my life.
I don't believe that it's ever too late to show someone your love. You may not be around to see me or hear me but I believe your soul feels me and directs me as I take care of your final arrangements. However difficult our relationship was, what we are to each other now is profound.
I intend to honor you as the regal woman you are. On November 22, 2008, had you lived, you would have observed your 93rd birthday. Truly you are blessed. They tell me that you just went to sleep, with a peaceful smile on your face, while watching TV. You weren't ill perhaps though unbeknownst to all of us, you were weary, yet always running to take care of your younger brother. Thank you Grandma, for giving me such a loving and wonderful father. I honor you, Grandmother, by loving Daddy and by being the best daughter that I can be for him.
May your soul eternally rest easy, Grandma Inez. Love You Always.