Sunday night, I had a dream that I was talking to my mom and she said “Yeah, when your grandma and grandpa died…” I stopped her and asked her what she was talking about. She responded, “oh yeah, we didn’t tell you?” Dream-mom was very nonchalant. I was heartbroken that my grandma had passed away and that I didn’t know.
I woke up Monday morning thinking that was real, and could feel my tears as the alarm went off. Upon further review, I remembered I also had a dream that Maya (my dog) couldn’t go outside because there was a pack of wolves waiting for her. A few giraffes and elephants were also there, so I realized my dreams may not be super reliable.
Even so, I knew I needed to call my grandma. Monday morning, I made a mental note to ask my dad when the best time to call her was, because I always forget when she’s busy with dinner, bingo, or chair yoga at her assisted living place.
My mental notes need to be followed up by three physical notes and an alarm reminder. So I forgot to ask. Work got busy, and by Tuesday, it was off my radar. I knew I’d call soon, by my birthday at the latest (10 days away at the time). I was still thinking of that dream, but I thought I had more time.
Tuesday night, I was leaving my yoga studio when I saw a text from my dad that said, “Call me ASAP.” I panicked, and thought of my grandma. I spent the time leaving the parking lot thinking of what else it could be- maybe he doesn’t text enough to know that that language sounds urgent?
I couldn’t wait so I put him on speaker phone for my drive home. It was too late.
My dad told me that he had visited Grandma because her coffee maker needed to be replaced, and they went out to dinner. “She had Shrimp, now I wish she had lobster,” he said, attempting to laugh through both of our tears. Once they returned to her apartment, she sat down to catch her breath, and she let go.
From Monday morning to Tuesday evening, in 36 hours, I was too slow.
My grandma was the type of person who I thought would live forever. Which sounds naive and cliche, especially because she wasn’t the person focused on superfoods and the health benefits of random plants. She gave off this invincible vibe because she was the least concerned about whatever ailment she was suffering from that day.
While staying at our house a few years ago, when her glaucoma was less severely hindering her eyesight, she said she could play cards with us if the lighting was brighter. So, my dad got out his headlight that he uses for hunting, and put it around her forehead.
“Yes, this is perfect,” she said, sitting at the kitchen table reviewing her Quiddler cards. She laughed with us, knowing it probably looked silly, but could not care less. She was the last person to allow an injury or illness to keep her from experiencing each day to its fullest.
Her Obituary captured her outlook and tenacity perfectly:
“Born during the Great Depression, coming of age during World War II, marrying her high school sweetheart in 1950, Bev could not have foreseen the adventures she would live.
In 1967, Bev and Jack moved their family to Katsina, Nigeria for two years. They fell in love with the place and the people, and returned to Nigeria in 1974 where they stayed for seven years. Her adventures there included coups, a civil war, friends that became family, and the opportunity to change young lives with her private pre-school that is still honored by the students who attended. In 1981, they moved to Botswana, where Bev again found a way to make a difference, as the administrative assistant to the director of USAID.
Their love affair with Africa never ended, but they eventually retired to Door County, Wisconsin in 1995, where their stories of life overseas never failed to entertain their grandchildren and friends.”
This weekend, we celebrate this beautiful and full life.
I’ll celebrate with family, and the amazing community that has been created by the friends that became family.
We are so lucky.
I don’t think my dream was a coincidence, and I don’t think my grandma having lucid dreams of my grandpa the nights before was a coincidence.
Our intuition is so much more powerful than we often realize.
My grandparents always chose adventure, they chose happiness, chose family, and eventually, they chose to be reunited.
Now, we get to choose gratitude for the life and community they built. We choose to celebrate, to live bigger, love harder, laugh louder, just as she did.