You had her long enough.


My Aunt Laura’s words to my father echo in my mind this evening.

Things haven’t been quite right since the end of February. Hospitals and rehab facilities.

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” -The Velveteen Rabbit

This past winter I started searching for a picture with my grandma. Just one. A picture of a hardware store – Her father’s store. I was determined to find it so I could enlarge it to hang in my home.

Once she was placed at a rehab facility I started bringing home full tote bags to sort thru alone at night. I thumbed through thousands of photos. I started setting aside a few here and there. The ones I wanted to scan. Before I knew it I had a basket, then a bin, and now they fill a fill a drawer.

Sisters. Best friends. Pen pals for life.

I found some of the most amazing photographs; I would blow them up and bring them in to her. I would show her these pictures as if she had never seen them before (totally forgetting that she was the subject of the photograph). She would give me this look out of the side of her eye and smile at me. Then she would tell me about everything she was wearing, who was with her that day, and details about wherever she was.

Months passed, and seasons changed before I finally found the image that started this. By the time I found it I didn’t care. The storefront no longer mattered to me. I was finding my grandma before she was a grandmother, before she was a mother, before everything.

She lived 89 years,18 weeks, and 3 days.
Over the course of those 32,636 days, 783,264 hours – she loved deeply and gave freely.

The storefront has become somewhat of an afterthought, but here it is. The tiny 2×3 photograph:

300 South Washington Street, Herkimer NY

I know my Aunt Laura is right, most women in their 80s are after all. I just wish it made it easier.

2 thoughts on “You had her long enough.

  1. Well said. She was a beautiful woman to the day she passed with a welcoming heart. She will forever be with you because she helped to shape you into the amazing and loving woman that you are today!

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