Good News & Bad News

I write this from a new writing nook in a new apartment.

It’s a bit chillier than my hobbit hole on Alfred St. I’m a tiny bit worried about the hedgehog, but she’ll be ok. She has her warming pad plugged in and is snoring contentedly, apparently unaware that she’s been shifted across town. The new room is nice. It’s just a bit larger than my old living room and it came fully furnished. Mom helped me move in today. What a rodeo. I discovered that the moving process is a bigger ordeal when you’ve settled into a place for more than six months. I own far more things than could fit in my backpack, now. I have a full shelf of books, four instruments (not including the Irish whistle or bamboo flute), important folders and files, and a much more extensive wardrobe. No complaints. It’s kind of awesome to have more than five or six outfits.

It feels good to finally be able to sit down and write for a while. I’m tired. Bone tired. My feet ache with exhaustion when I let myself sit down for a minute. It’s been a long week. I’ve been finishing finals, prepping to move, and dealing with some rather unexpected moments along the way.

Would you rather have the good news or the bad news first?

I think we’ll go with the bad news first. Ending on a high note seems better.

My great-grandmother passed away recently. It was relatively unexpected. She was nearly 97, so perhaps we should have been ready for it, but she was incredibly healthy. At 96, she was still living alone in an apartment complex for mostly self-sufficient elderly people. She would still cook dinners “for all the old people” on her floor and they’d play cards and piece together puzzles afterward over coffee. Cooking was her joy. All of my memories of her center around food. She lived in the tiniest apartment, but she’d insist on having us stay for a few days and letting her cook for us. We’d end up crammed into her mini living room, waiting for the next meal and trying not to bump into each other too much. I swear I gained a good 5-10 pounds at every visit. She was a fantastic Grandma.

She wasn’t stereotypical, though. I feel like I’m not doing her justice. She was full of surprises. She put carrots in jello. She loved watching those scary crime/mystery shows on TV late at night and she went to church via the radio each Sunday. She’d sing along to the hymns and flip to the verses in her bible as the preacher spoke through the static. The books on her shelves were a mixture of Christian literature and erotic romance novels. And she’d scream at me in her sleep sometimes and scare the crap out of me (I was the only girl, thus, I got the only bed, which happened to be in Grandma’s room). Once, I woke up to her muttering, eyes wide open, hands clawing at my bed. She was sleepwalking. I nearly died.

I feel like these aren’t things we’re supposed to say about recently deceased loved ones.

But simply saying that she loved having her nails painted or that she had a beautiful, crinkly smile doesn’t seem like enough. She was a lovely dash of unusual in a body made of love and compassion and she was so deeply loved by her family.

I haven’t experienced many deaths. To this day, I’ve never attended a funeral. I was too far away and too deep in exams to go down last week. This is the first time I’ve ever felt more than a brief and quiet sadness. I had more than a passing connection with this person. It’s strange to think that she’s gone. I don’t believe in an afterlife, so the whole, “She’s gone to a better place,” or “God has called her home” thing doesn’t make me feel any different. It is what it is. We miss her.

The Good News:

Grandma Parker wouldn’t want us lingering over her death and feeling sad. She had a wonderful life and she died on her own terms like a badass. So, in an attempt to end this on a high note, GUESS WHAT?

I landed a very cool internship.

One of my geography instructors, Professor Lovell, called me to his office the other day to have a chat about my plans for future years at Queen’s. Originally I assumed this was because I’d emailed him frustrated about the slow pace that the university system is putting me through at the moment. So off I went, looking slightly ridiculous after a long day of teaching and walking around town. The door to his office was covered in poetry and newspaper cuttings. Inside, statues and masks from Central and South America sat on shelves full of books about the Maya people and the history of those regions. I was hoping that maybe he’d figured out a way for me to get the credits I wanted at a faster rate. He had, but he offered me something else that blew my mind.

Come March, I will be boarding a plane and flying down to Guatemala.

Once there, I’ll be working in a top research library in Antigua alongside multiple influential geographers. I won’t have all of the details until next semester, but it’s looking like room and board are covered, possibly flights as well. I’m over the moon. This is the opportunity of my dreams and I never expected it would land in my lap like it did.

In some ways, it’s helped me to dismiss some of my little fears and insecurities about my university life. I still don’t have tons of friends. I’m still the odd one out (more so this year, actually, because I stopped caring). My grades are good, but I didn’t make Dean’s List last year. Was I doing something wrong? Apparently not. I’m excited. I’ll keep you updated as I get more information about what I’ll be doing down there. :)

Off to bed, now. Tomorrow, I finish this moving process, dye someone’s hair, and enjoy an early Christmas dinner with my lovely grandparents. I have so much more to write about… friends getting married, becoming an aunt (yes, really! Don’t worry, my brothers aren’t responsible), and prepping to fly to Florida to visit the boys… but it will have to wait.



5 Replies to “Good News & Bad News”

  1. Congrats – that is awesome news! and I am so sorry to hear about your gramma – our thoughts are with you and your family. <3

  2. So sorry to hear about your great grandmother Hannah-I think the last photo I saw of her was in a shopping mall on a kids carousel ride but I could possibly be making that up. Congrats on your internship; very well deserved and makes all the not so good things about University worth it. :)

  3. Interesting that I’m reading this today — December 18th. On December 18, 1981, I took my last final at Capital University in Columbus, OH, and I started packing to move to Indianapolis. Moving in December is fundamentally strange, I believe. By this point in the annual cycle, we’re supposed to be hunkered down for the winter, not dragging all out belongings out into the cold and snow — whether moving across town or across two states. But I survived, and I know you will, too! :) In another coincidence, we are surrounded by boxes right now. We had the floors refinished upstairs, and everything got boxed up and moved to other rooms….

  4. I was so sorry to hear of your great grandmother’s passing. I had heard quite a lot of wonderful things from your mother, of her over the years. A young man we know, who was raised in the Church but is now a non-believer said of his mother, one of my dearest friend’s in the world, “I know you all think I am going to hell because I don’t believe in your beliefs but I don’t have to. I know my mother lives on every day when I look at my own face in the mirror”. And so it is that with faith or without our cherished loved ones leave us with a legacy that defies other people’s belief systems for us. We know they live on in the gifts and talents they have passed down, in the gestures we have, in the strength of our family bonds and yes, even in our resemblance to one another. They live on in our memories best of all. This is the beauty of love passing through death.

    1. This was so beautiful and meaningful to me. Thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply