June 28, 2005
Today at 7pm I turn 26 years old. Today at 3am my grandmother Ruth Houston died at age 86. Quick math shows I have about 60 years left. Although men don't live as long, also I'm not very healthy. (People keep offering me cake and candy even though I'm on a diet. I don't care that it's me birthday I'm not having any cobbler.) I probably have 50 years left. That puts me surprising close to one third through my life. Men in our family have a history of heart disease, although recently lung cancer has been the leading cause of death. Granny Ruth didn't smoke though nor did she have heart problems, she died of being 86 and of having pneumonia.
Let me tell you a story about Granny Ruth:
Granny Ruth used to call me over when I was 16 on a Saturday. I'd go over and sweat in the sun for a four or five hours, breaking midway for a sandwich. (She loved to watch me eat. It also stunned her that I could lift a gallon of milk over my head. Anyways.) When the lawn was done I'd say, Â"Well, I better get moving on." She'd say, "Wait just a sec, hun." And go and fetch a pill bottle from the kitchen table. I know what your thinking a grandmother who pays for yard work in painkillers is pretty great, but she was after quarters. I'd get about 25-75 cents. I'd thank her and smiled. It was funny after all, I'd have done it for free but to be paid in quarters was humorous.
On the same thread: One year for Christmas she gave me a clock from her house and her late husbands dress shirt. I could have probably fit into it when I was 13. Now my forearm couldn't fit down the armhole. I thanked her and smiled. The clock had belonged to my grandfather and my mother wanted to keep it, so I gave it to her. She has my grandfathers clock still; it doesn't run, but neither does my grandfather. (We weren't supposed to do gifts that year we'd agreed upon a Chinese gift exchange. But it wasn't Christmas unless the kids unwrap something. So we all got clocks.) She was thoughtful, downright anxious; it's a family thing: Anxiety. I suffer as well but am a third generation worrier and hide it better.
On the same thread: I was broke, hungry, depressed and out of work at Harding. The Spring Sing paycheck was four weeks away. Rent was overdue and the tuition people had put a hold on my bookstore account. Granny Ruth gave me a $500 check without even thinking about it. It stunned me. Was this the same woman who paid 6 cents an hour for lawn work and gave me a second hand clock with a missing second hand? I thanked her and smiled. She has since given me lots of things, furniture, a computer, she told me a month ago I could have anything from her house that I could carry out. I took a set of "hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil" monkeys they are in my office now.
I love Granny Ruth. Her funeral is on Friday at 10am. I've been told I'm a pallbearer. I cried uncontrollably last time I was a pallbearer and said I wouldn't do it again. Crying like a baby on the back row is bad enough; I cry loudly it turns out. But crying in the front of the church is even worse. Never the less, I've agreed to the post. I need to buy new pants, mine have paint on them from VBS.