One Christmas, I don't remember the hoopla but I'm told there was quite a stir, Grandma waited in line and bought all of the grandkids, there were three girls and one boy at the time, a Cabbage Patch Kid. I've been told they were quite the rage that year, I was the oldest and I don't remember knowing I was supposed to want one, but I did love that doll. Every year for the next three, we each got a new one.
But that's not the real story. The real story has to do with the fact that Grandma was a busy body. She knew everyone and everyone's business. I can't recall how many times in my life I would catch myself wondering in awe who all of the kids, neatly framed and arranged on her entertainment center, end tables, and various other spots around her house, belonged to. Oh, that's so and so's granddaughter from over there, and that's what's her name's daughter's son's niece and nephew, she would explain. And of course she knew every one of those kids' names, where they lived and the names of their mamas, daddys, aunts, uncles, and cousins. She loved them all, too.
Grandma loved being at the center of the action, rarely was she the actual center of attention, she just always knew what was going on. She thrived on it. But she was not a gossip, not really. In fact, I don't remember, except once, hearing her real opinion of anything. Mostly she expressed sympathy. "Isn't it just horrible," she would lament. Maybe and maybe not. I think that Grandma just genuinely cared.
Grandma died after complications from several strokes. She didn't want to be kept alive and we honored her wishes. In hospice, where everyone did their best to keep her comfortable while she waited to pass into her next life, she twitched her feet to let us know she was still with us. There was no real medical way that she was really able to move her feet, but she did it. SHE did it. We knew it. She finally let go and went to be with Grandpa, who had passed long before I was ever born and had, therefore, never formally met any of his grandchildren, actually even his youngest daughter's husband. Of course, that's not the story either.
Grandma died right at the beginning of November, the beginning of her favorite time of year. The Thanksgiving after she died might have been the last time that all of us, her three kids, their spouses and us grandchildren, were all together and we knew Grandma's eyes must have been twinkling to see us there together, talking about her, still a little emotionally raw. It was a nuscience at first, that little fruit fly that wouldn't go away. We swatted at it and it eluded our efforts only to rejoin the party from another angle. And then, as sure as turkey and a healthy dose of football will bring on the naps, that darn fruit fly was gone as soon as the dinner excitement was settled.
That is, until the next time. When that little fruit fly, maybe the same one, maybe not, sure did come out of no where and join her two youngest grandsons and all of their friends. That little fruit fly put on the same show for them and disappeared when the action settled. Of course this wasn't the last time a single fruit fly made an appearance at a family gathering, in fact, we've grown to expect it.
No one ever plans to come back to this earth as a fruit fly, but we all figure it suits Grandma best. It allows her to hear all of the conversations going on at once and taste the food that she loved so much. We don't even second guess it when we see a fruit fly now, because we know it's her, just making sure all is well. That's the story, so short and seemingly insignificant, like a fruit fly I guess. But I'll tell you what, I don't think it was an accident that a lone fruit fly landed on my arm today in church right in the middle of the part of the sermon that I knew I had really needed to hear. She knew it and I knew it. Then she was gone.