Grandma Davis


I’ve returned home to Yakima, and life seems to be returning to normal . . . Darjeeling Tea a bit over-steeped, and needing lots of honey to level it out.  Baking lunch for the rest of the week, editing possible logos for friends, while listening to a lecture on Newton’s little known Detective Career.  Taking a break I start to fold my Christmas socks.  10 pairs of new Kirkland Signature Athletic Socks with “Sorbtek” Technology – and as I paw thru the cluttered drawers of my desk looking for a Sharpie I realize that for the first time in 28 years I don’t need to mark my socks.


I don’t need to mark my socks . . .

. . . I don’t need to defend my sock stash from my Father. I don’t need to hogtie and brand my wandering and roving herds of socks to protect them from roommates.  I don’t kneed to mark them anymore . . .


. . . Not sure how I feel about that . . .


Grandma died on the Sunday 19th of December at 12:05 am.  I was able to be with during the day and late into the evening on Saturday.  It happened really fast - I’m not even sure if she was in the Hospital for 24 hours.  My Grandfather died when I was a young teenager, and He was a man I did not know all that well.  Tall and dark, a man of few words.  He had brain cancer, and we visited Grandma and Grandpa weekly, I saw this man deteriorate, physically and mentally.  I remember when he did not come home one night.  I remember my Father searching the dimly lit streets of Seattle for my missing Grandfather.  I remember when he was moved down the hall to the Farm bedroom.  I remember sitting on the Grandma’s bed watching TV when I heard my sister Katie and Him singing – singing a song about his beautiful Katie, and moonlight and kitchen door’s.  I remember silently wishing I had a memory like that.  I remember years later loosing one of his poles over the side of the boat while fishing on the Sound and sobbing all the way back to shore, the sort of sobbing where your breath comes in ragged gasps, where you are on the verge of hyperventilating and your head starts to ache – I sobbed and sobbed, in front of my Father and his co-workers.  I do not remember much about the day we buried Grandpa – only one strong memory stands out – my Father – I was surprised by the level and sincerity of his grief.  Over the following years I visited Grandpa’s grave every now and then. A few rows back away from the road, in line with a tree on the opposite side.  I’d visit him on idle Tuesdays or empty Fridays.  I’d scrap dirt and mud off of his stone, or wander around by myself looking for the oldest graves I could find.


Years went by – I got to know my Grandmother better.  Our weekly visits tapered off, and soon I was off to college.  I called her every now and then, telling her about life, school, and girls.  When I graduated and started looking for work she bought me a suit.  I wore that suit when applying to job’s all over the Northwest as far north as Bellingham and as far south as Portland.  I wore it to two rounds of interviews with the City of Seattle, and I wore it when interviewing in Yakima.  I wore it to her funeral on Thursday, I wore it as I struggled to button the white gloves a stranger gave me, gloves to wear while I helped to carry her to rest. Gloves to place on the light blue casket – and there I stood, next to my Uncle’s and my Cousin and my Father.  We placed our gloves, and our roses, and I was able to watch the others as they placed theirs.  The faces of family, the faces of friends, the faces of people I’ve never met – people whom my Grandmother had taught years ago in her Sunday school.  I thought it odd till I thought of my old Sunday School teacher Mrs. Sally. 


Last Saturday was a whirlwind – I had been up late the night (Friday Night/Saturday Morning) before – I had much to process and even more to do, so I stayed up and did neither, rather choosing to go for a long drive with a fellow who is fast becoming a good friend, we ate corn nuts and late night Jack in the Box – which is the best sort of Jack in the Box to eat.  I did not think that in less than 24 hours I would be hurrying a hospital for a second time.  I did not expect that the doors to the lobby would be locked at 12:15 in the morning, and I did not think I would be searching in a wet and empty parking lot with my sisters for the emergency room entrance.  I did not expect to see a laminated post card of a poppy in full bloom on the doorframe to Grandma’s room.  I did not expect to see a quiet vacant look on my aunt’s face when I entered the room.  My Grandmother’s daughters -  tired and strong. My Mother, her youngest, was with her at the end.  My Grandmother is gone – and the sight of her – I knew she was gone when I entered the room - the sight of her stays with me. Not as a painful thought but as a stirring fact.  My little sister needs air, needs space – we go out and find the top of some empty stair well and process – we talk, we cry.  I hold her as she talks and remembers.  A night guard on his rounds passes us on the stairs and does an excellent job of giving us a respectful supportive smile.


And my timer is going off – this weeks lunches are done. An off the cuff creation.  There is an old jazz song sung by whom I do not know about the boogie-woogie at a place down the street being better than chicken fried in bacon grease.  So I fried up some bacon – seared three chicken breasts, tossed three cups of brown rice, two cans of mushrooms along with the mushroom water, salt and pepper a cup of heavy cream along with three cups of water into my amazing enameled cast iron stock pot.  Three-ish hours at 350 degrees and the rice is done, the chicken is done – it smells amazing.  I’m walking to and from work these days so the added flavor will work itself off I’m hoping. 


The lecture on Newton has been replaced with Ravel’s Bolero – a piece which I hear is as maddening to play as it is enjoyable to listen to.  My mind is all over the place – I’ve just been asked to be in a wedding – I’ve still got a pile of unmarked socks to fold and put away.  There are several new buds on my fichus, and I’ve got trash to take out. 




And like that life seems to move on . . .


. . . quietly . . .


. . . steadily . . .


. . . naturally . . .




And maybe this is why death is sometimes compared to a boat ride – cause the past seems so often like the shore, as you pull away – you don’t love the land any less, you don’t forget the shade or the smell of the trees, but eventually - bit by bit the coast line shrinks, and as the deck heaves and rolls beneath your feet you eventually gain your sea legs.  You learn to lean and step in time with the ship.  Again the land is not any less real – and you miss it – but the coast line shrinks away.  Every now and then you see a sea bird or a bit of log or plant and it reminds you of the land you’ve sailed away from.  And the scariest part of sailing, is venturing out of sight of the land – trusting that you will not forget how to return.


  1. I'm praying for you man.
    It's awesome you got to make memories with your grandmother before she passed away.
    Praying for you.

  2. What a poignant, beautiful memorial to your grandmother. You obviously loved her very much and are a great person because of her influence in your life.
    Barbara in Houston