Orlinda Frances Hesch - 7.4.1915-8.29.1996
Ten years ago today Gram died. The official report says that she passed on August 29th, but I was there, and to my mind, she arrived at the hospital the morning of the 28th, was sick all day, and was gone by midnight. Quickly, with a maximum of dignity and a minimum of pain. Not a bad way to go.
It seems so amazing sometimes to realize that all our lives have kept moving forward in her absence, that so many important mile-markers have happened since she's been gone. Nanny, Bid, and I have all graduated from college (Nanny even has her Master's!) She would have been so pleased: she had an unwavering faith in education. I adopted a dog (which perhaps doesn't seem like a major mile-marker, but if you think that, you haven't heard the story of how Wiley has been the author of much of my fate! [Gram would have called Wiley a "good bow" and let him lick her feet through her ankle-stockings]), bought a house, ran some marathons, met a wonderful man... Nanny, J Mike, and I have all gotten married. Jobs and addresses have come and gone, we've traveled and returned home, the first great-grandchild has been born.
Sometimes I dream that she's still alive, grown older, as she would have. These dreams hold surprise and happiness, even the ones where I am her care-taker, bathing and feeding her, (inexplicably) carrying her around as if she weighed no more than a child. When I wake up I'm a little sad to have to let her go again, but then, she's not, really. We invoke her often, through memories and by association, planting Bleeding Hearts and Peonies, making potato soup and pot roast and rhubarb crisp, singing "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" and "Stille Nacht." We carry her with us—the knowledge that she would be proud of our accomplishments, happy for our happiness, approving of a tidy haircut or the elegant cut of a new coat. I have only to bring to mind her soft, paper-skinned hand stroking my hair, my head leaned against her knee, to feel a sense of peace curl around me, comforting as her gray yard-wool blanket. I have no doubt that she is watching out for all of us, and I am grateful.