Yesterday marked seventy-seven years since the passing of my maternal grandmother, Mae Blanche Hazelton Main Hargrave. On the day of her passing, my mother was just three days past her 13th birthday. My grandmother became ill on Mom's birthday. She had been tending to others who were suffering from a flu and pneumonia outbreak and the weather had been cold and damp. In addition to her own mother being seriously ill on her birthday, my mother started her period for the first time. My Great-Aunt Clara told my grandmother about it, and my mother was called to my grandmother's bedside. She took my mother by the hand and said, "I don't have any more babies . . ." The house became busy with nurses tending to my grandmother and the doctor stopping by to check on her. My mother remembers she couldn't stand all the activity. At some point the doctor announced there was nothing more to do but wait . . . my grandmother was dying. Mom remembers carolers singing, "Silent Night, Holy Night" and to this day cannot hear it without remarking, "I hate that song."
A few days ago I spent several hours with Mom, just listening to her talk and tell me the same stories I have heard my whole life. But this time she told me something new, something different. She told me that she can remember the funeral as though it happened yesterday. She remembers standing by the graveside and holding her father's hand . . . and her eyes were closed. She said she didn't want to see her mother there . . . in that coffin . . . knowing she was to soon be buried . . . and physically gone from this world. She said she didn't want to believe that it was real.
Mom has been remembering her mother a lot these days. She said that not one day goes by that she doesn't think of her mother in some way. Mom has told me that her mother was vivacious, fun-loving, kind, gracious, and never spoke a harsh word. She has told me how when she or her sisters did something wrong, that their mother would call them by their full name and tell them to take a seat in the parlor. And their mother would calmly and lovingly address their wrongdoing, her disappointment, and then tell them to go upstairs and think on what they had done. Mom has spoken of her mother having bridge parties, telling jokes, making beautiful clothes for her daughters, wearing pants in downtown Petersburg, and even smoking cigarettes in front of the grocery store.
So today Mom and I marked today as a day of remembrance by visiting the graves of her mother, father, and aunt at Blandford Cemetery. We left a single red rose on each grave.
My mom's life changed forever in many ways the day her mother died. She remembers with great fondness her life up to that day, and I hope she remembers how much her mother loved her then.
And I hope she knows how much I love her now.