Last week on September 16, my paternal grandmother, Madge Lorene Carmack Thompson, died in a hospital in Missouri, surrounded by her sons. She was 78 years old and had been battling cancer. I had the opportunity to attend her memorial service in Missouri on Sunday. As I perused the display my father had set up to honor her, complete with pictures and wine and letters and recipes and flowers, I could not hold back my tears. The service had not yet begun, and I was responsible for all of the music, but my eyes were blurred with tears an my throat was thick. I realized just how much I would miss her.
Madge Carmack was born on July 21, 1937.
The last time I spoke with her was on July 21, 2015. I had called her for her birthday. We had one of our familiar conversations. She was alert and sounded better than she had in quite a while. She asked about my children. We ended our conversation with something we always said to each other each time we talked: “I enjoyed talking with you. We need to do it more often!”
In those words, I felt the friendship of my grandmother. She was always delighted to speak with me. She always had witty reminiscences and helped me not to feel so bad about things with my mother. She got me through some of the most difficult times with my mother. She listened. She was interested in me. She loved me.
I remember the time we traveled to Paris together. She walked slowly, and I had tweaked my knee a bit on all of the stairs and because of all of the walking around the city. I limped a little, and together my dad dubbed us the “invalides.”
When I learned of her passing, I immediately cried. I spent several hours crying. When I went to the school to pick up my children and a neighbor girl, I’m sure I looked quite a fright. I had no makeup. I had not bothered with my hair that day. My eyes were puffy and red-rimmed.
The neighbor girl came over about an hour later with a plate of cookies and her mother. They expressed their condolences to me, and her mother confessed that it had been her daughter’s idea, as she noted upon arriving home that I looked “really sad.”
I ate a few of those delicious cookies, and then, while putting them away in a large, sturdy tupperware container, I remembered another moment in which my grandma had touched my life. She had sent me cookies in that exact container, some years earlier. We had talked on the phone, and she had ended that conversation by saying that she would sent me cookies. She did, and they arrived in that container, which I kept because of its usefulness. It isn’t a special container, but last week it was because it reminded me of my grandma and her many acts of kindness.
I will miss you, Grandma. It was hard to say goodbye. God be with you until we meet again.