Last night, around 9:30, I received a call from my mother that I had been expecting for months. Last night, my grandmother passed away. I hate to say she passed away, as much as I want to say she finally found a different sort of courage and “shuffled” away to join my grandfather at that great Pinnochle game in the sky. My grandmother had always been a strong and independent woman. She was the matriarch; the provider. Even this past Saturday, as people started to the daily congregation at her house, she knew that somebody had to go to the store and get food for dinner. It had to be taken care of, and she couldn’t do it. That drove her nuts.
My grandparents and I have always been close. After I was born, my mom went back to work and left me with them while she worked; until I apparently called Mom-Mom, “Mom.” Since then, her and I have had an incredible relationship. A relationship that I’ve been lucky to have. Her and my grandfather cared for me, gave me money when I needed it, and provided me with opportunities; not because I asked for all of that stuff, but because they knew me and loved me. There were plenty of times where I’d tell Mom-Mom, “No, that’s your money, I don’t need it.” She’d reply, “See this?” while shaking her fist…
I could talk to her about anything. I was happy to share with her everything. Since Pop-Pop passed, I think the three greatest days in her life were the day I married my wife, the day we told her we were having a baby, and the day we named him Carter William. She loved that baby. I believe he was the reason she turned her 3 month life expectancy into 7. She was always upset that she couldn’t pick him up or take care of him the way she used to for us. She used to pick us up from school and take us to her place until my dad got home from work. We’d always make these “secret stops to Dairy Queen,” on the way home with my sister. We’d love it because it was before dinner. If you know me, you know that it never spoiled dinner for me!
What is really going to make losing her tough is the Phillies. Since I was a little boy, my grandparents would take me to games, and I practically lived at the Vet. Through my grandfather I became a huge fan of the tradition and history of the Fightin’s, and I get emotional after every win after I hear Harry Kalas singing “High Hopes.” My wife will tell you what a baby I am at every Wall of Fame game each August. While the Phillies are honoring their latest entry into their wall of honor, I’m reminiscing about the Phillies that aren’t there, the Harry Kalas’s, the John Vukovich’s, the Richie Ashburn’s. Every year, I have tears in my eyes because the Phillies have brought me so much happiness and sorrow that I live and breath with the team. I’m a little jealous that she can now listen to the games called by the two greatest broadcasters of all time in Kalas and Ashburn.
There is so much I could say. So many stories. She and my grandfather are the grandparents I hope my wife and I can grow up to be. The pastor of the church asked the four grandkids if they would speak at the funeral. I had to write a poem. The question will be, can I get through it?
This is the last time Mom-Mom was out of the house. She showed me how to make her fried chicken! 🙂
What do you say about someone you’ve known your whole life?
Who has helped you in times of need and strife?
Someone who has listened to your every story,
And was proud of you through all of your glory?
This is one of the hardest poems I’ve ever had to write,
As I choke back tears with all of my might.
My mom-mom is one of the strongest women I know
And to see her in her last days of show
Makes me realize how she has helped me grow.
Watching the Phillies will never be the same,
There are lots of memories about the Hall of Fame.
Summer nights with Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop
Made up my childhood; I never wanted them to stop.
Fried chicken during Phillies Camp, I swear helped my game,
She would always be there to discuss events during the postgame.
Whenever there was anything to discuss about baseball
I could always count on Mom-Mom to listen to it all
Whether we’re discussing over rummikub or phone call.
When I went to college, I had to move away,
But I still tried to keep in touch almost every day.
Whenever it had been a few days since we talked,
“Did you forget my number?” she would hawk.
She and Pop always pushed for the Dean’s List,
“Do you need any money?” she would always persist.
I was lucky to have her on my side,
I knew there was no story I couldn’t hide
And I hoped that what I’ve done filled her with pride.
As I got older, I was lucky to find
A loving woman who was equally as stubborn and kind.
Not too long later, we had a boy
Who brightened her days and brought her much joy.
She called him ornery, and always felt bad
That she could never take care of him like with us she had.
She had a little buddy that made her feel blessed,
No matter how much he seemed to be a pest
And he will forever be reminded of how he should do his best.
So now that Mom-Mom’s gone, where do we go from here?
We should remember those things from her we hold so dear.
Not just her bread, her cookies, or her mac ‘n cheese;
Our families are the ones we should hold and seize
Don’t cry because she’s gone, smile because you knew her
Make every thought and reminder give your heart a stir.
Thank you Mom-mom, for everything; words cannot thank enough what you’ve given me.
I pray that you and pop are together and happy
And always know that I love you. Love, Henry.