Dear Annie: I was very close to my grandmother, and when she died, I felt guilty at times, thinking that I might have been sharp with her. She had always been like a mother, and a friend. I guess I was mad that she was getting older. She never got bad enough that we couldn’t have a coherent conversation about how she felt.
She would ask me to sing songs I knew she liked, and she remembered every word. She would recall funny stories about the family that always brought a smile to her face. She was always so mad at herself when she couldn’t remember a word, or forgot what she was going to say.
I knew there would be a time when I would lose my buddy as I knew her. She would stare with a vacant look in her eye, and I always wondered where she was. I would always make a joke of it so as to not make her feel embarrassed. She would always make up something to not worry me, but I knew at that moment she wasn’t with me.
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I took her on walks, and she was in excellent health for 90. And very attractive. I was still sad, though, wondering if she was afraid. She had long ago told me that people don’t realize that when you age, no matter how old, you are always the same person inside.
I started writing these observations down, and soon it was in poem form and people were asking for copies. Some even had it framed. It assuaged the fear and sadness in regard to our projections and conjectures about what people her age might be going through. So with what I had written down, along with what Grandma was able to tell me, I composed a poem. I hope it helps those who are, or will be, touched by this ugly part of aging.
“A Letter From Grandma”
“I’ve seen the way you look at me when you think I haven’t heard what you said.
“Truth is I heard you, but I’m at a new place now, and it’s somewhere in my head.
“I understand it scares you, but it’s because it’s all so new.
“Time was when it scared me, and made me more than a little mad too.
“But I’ve found this field of daisies where the skies are always so blue,
“and I’ve seen a spotted puppy with a child who looks a lot like you.
“I can jump so high and run so fast — I’m so very young again I hardly have a past.
“I’ve seen you worry, and I know you stew
“Sometimes you even get mad — I know that you do.
“It’s because you love me, and you don’t understand that what’s happening to me is all part of a plan.
“Sometimes from where I am I think I see my mother.
“I see everyone I’ve ever loved, first one and then the other.
“When I’m here, I have strength, not an ache or a pain.
“I can play baseball or hopscotch and take long walks in the rain.
“Here It doesn’t matter if I forget what I wanted to say.
“There’s no stress or pressure, maybe someday I’ll stay.
“It all happened so slowly, but someday you’ll understand.
“Even you will visit this new place, and when you do, you and I will walk hand in hand.” — Jim Aitken
Dear Jim: Thank you for sharing your beautiful poem. You were a wonderful grandson, and no one appreciated you more than Grandma.
“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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