My grandma Bateman passed away when I was only 8 years old, but in those 8 years I became extremely close to her, and to this day her death is still one of the hardest things I have ever experienced. A piece of me died right along with her. I remember it as if it were yesterday. I was sitting in my 3rd grade class, listening to my teacher ramble on and on about some subject I didn’t really care about. I’m sure I was busy making facing at my best friend Ashley, who was across the room, because our teachers always separated us for talking or laughing too much. Not much has changed since then; we’re still as gabby & laugh at the most inappropriate times it seems. My dad walked in and whispered something to my teacher; she looked at me with sad eyes and then nodded her head as if to say yes to my dad. My heart sank, I knew what was coming. My dad walked over to me, grabbed my hand and told me to gather my things, he was taking me home.
The ride from Loch Lynn elementary school to the house I grew up in is literally a minute long, but that was the longest minute of my life. When we got home, I threw my backpack on the hallway floor and I ran into the bathroom. I stood in front of the mirror, just putting off hearing the news for as long as I could. The lump in my throat was so big that I found it hard to swallow. I fought back tears, took a deep breath, and walked out into the living room where my dad was sitting. He patted the couch and told me to sit next to him. He grabbed my hands and told me that my grandmother passed away. Even though, I knew it was coming, those words hit me like a ton of bricks, knocking the wind right out of me. I sobbed. My dad picked me up and placed me on his lap, and held me close to him, while he cried just as hard. She was his mother-in-law, but she was more of a mom to him than his own mother. She loved him dearly, and he loved her just as much, although anyone who knows my dad or knew my grandmother loved them. They are just the type of people that you can’t help but love the minute you meet them.
I have been thinking about my grandmother a lot lately. I now live in the house that she once owned, and sometimes I sit and reflect as I remember the smell of ripened bananas, because she always had a bunch sitting on her kitchen counter. My grandmother was stubborn, funny, and one of the most kind and gentle spirits I have ever known. I wonder what advice she would give me as I turn 31 on Thursday. I wonder if she hadn’t battled with chronic bronchitis, COPD, and emphysema, and if she was able bodied if she would be baking my birthday cake, since my mom is not able to. I hold onto the memories I have of her and the stories I have been told. That’s all I have left. I never got to tell her how much she means to me, I may have only been 8, but my little heart loved her more than amything. There is still a special place for her, & I miss her dearly. I think about what she would be like if she were still here. Would she still wear Chanel number 5? Would we bake together, since I share her love of baking? Would she be proud of me? I like to think so. So in honor of my birthday I would like to honor the woman who helped shape me into the woman I am today. The woman who taught me to fight for what you believe in, to have gentle hands, and to love deeply. My heroine, Dorothea L. Bateman.