Virginia Adelaide was born in October of 1922 in a time of prohibition and the beginning of the jazz age. She experienced her early years of life during the Great Depression and watched Americans leave their families for World War II. As the world changed and developed around her, my grandmother grew stronger in her faith in God. This helped her to become the most influential woman in my life. When she took her last breath during the cold, bitter months of the winter season, my life changed forever.
Her death came as a huge shock to me. I heard of her slowly becoming progressively more ill and unresponsive to all her medications in the weeks prior to her death, but the thought never crossed my mind that her death would actually occur. My great-grandmother was a fighter; she thrived for ninety-five years of her life, going through a pacemaker, several falls, and various surgeries. Growing up, I thought of her as being invincible, she was untouchable. I was proved wrong on that day. The air was crisp and the sun was shining brightly as my Grandma Adelaide took her last breath and entered into heaven.
As my family and I deplaned into Baltimore the next week for her funeral, the feeling of true Maryland winter surrounded me. It was beginning to snow and people rushed around us to leave the airport before the weather got too bad. Driving onto her street filled me with memories of my childhood. I could smell the honeysuckles and grass that I would play in during the summer and I felt the heat of the fireplace that my cousins and I would stand next to in order to warm up after building snowmen. Driving past her little, white house hidden in the woods forced all my sadness to rush in and wipe away the sweet memories that just consumed my thoughts. Her flowers were dead because of the harsh winter and I could sense my grandmother was looking down from heaven wondering who would save them for her.
The next day was an early start. The white snow on the ground and on the tree tops muffled all noise around my family’s quaint, little neighborhood. I silently dressed myself in black, a color I never thought was too flattering on me. My soft wool sweater warmed my skin and comforted me as I prepared myself to face this long, dreaded day head-on.
Upon entering the church, I could smell perfume and stale coffee. My Aunt was singing my Grandmother Adelaide’s favorite church hymns in her most talented, angelic voice. Amazing Grace seemed to sing us to our seats in the back row of the rather large church. I had not expected as many people as there were, neatly filed into the plush church pews. Seeing all the people who surrounded me, mourning my Grandmother, I knew that she touched more hearts than she would have admitted. Her soft, humble character strived to do all things for God, her Father. She did not help others for the sake of praise or glory, but because she knew it was what God wanted from her.
As the ceremony ended and the time came to bury her, I felt a sense of peace. I knew in my heart that her time to go had come and I came to terms with saying my last goodbye. I thought of my days spent gardening for her. The soft, wet dirt stuck between my fingernails as I did the work she loved so much but could no longer do.
Standing in silence, I reflected on all the times I drove her to the grocery for the same select items that always filled her fridge. I remember the summer days I spent inside on her couch, playing card games and watching the Orioles’ hit a home run. Throughout my life, I believed that all my time spent with her was for her benefit, but as she joined her beloved husband and met her Father at the pearly gates of heaven, I knew it was all for me.