For some reason I've been incredibly peaceful about losing someone close to me. I think a part of it is some kind of denial, like "she's not really gone," and then you go to the funeral home and you see this stiff body there with all the life gone from it, and it just hits so hard. I can't bring myself to delete her number out of my phone even though I know no one will pick up if I call. I haven't been able to bring myself to write about it even until now.
I wish I had some pictures to post here because she was beautiful and spunky and the two of us would giggle like we were the same age when I'd go over there and hang out with her. She had a hard life and didn't have the opportunities that her kids and grandkids did, but she and her brothers and sisters were some of the happiest people I've ever met.
When we'd drive back down to deep southeast Ohio, to the small town where she grew up, it was always the best family reunions, with lots of amazing food, people playing accordions, homemade wine, and my dad's cousins blowing off illegal fireworks on the back fields as the siblings would trade Polish jokes and tell us we were pronouncing my last name wrong, and tell stories about bailing their youngest brother out of jail in Wheeling for fighting, and my dad would talk about how he and his cousins used to play this game called "Vietnam War" where they'd go out in the cornfields and lob missiles of dirt at each other over the tops of the rows.
She loved to dance, and that's how she and my grandpa met, when she moved up to Cleveland to work at a factory and they would go dancing every weekend, taking the streetcars all over the city to dance halls from Detroit Road to Collinwood. They taught me how to polka in the basement, and unsuccessfully tried to show me how to golf. She and her sisters would watch golf the way most people watch football, and it was amazing. I had offered to move in with her to help her out, but she lived on her own until the end, still driving and getting around and sending me letters with beautiful handwriting.
I know she's in a better place, but I'm going to miss her like crazy. I'm going to miss her jokes and her phone calls and watching Wheel of Fortune with her and hanging out in the kitchen cooking Polish food on Christmas Eve.