Grandma Ivy died in Kansas on Monday morning. We were in Australia and got the news and wondered if it was possible to fly half way around the world to celebrate Laurie’s mom’s mother. She was only 87 but what an 87 years she lived.
I wonder some days if I am doing it right. I sit and think about how I am spending the days of my life, and my free time, and my money. I wonder if I am the best friend I can be, the best servant to my clients, the best dad to my kids. I wonder . . .
We spent the night with Grandma six weeks ago. It was very cool. We stopped by between speaking trips and she was thrilled. She wanted to take us for dinner at the new diner in town. She wanted to introduce us to everyone she knew. This was her granddaughter – she wanted everyone to know Laurie is her granddaughter visiting from California. Her only granddaughter? Oh no, Grandma Ivy has 9 children, 28 grandkids, 70 great grandkids, and 21 great great grandkids. Yep, that is 128 of em – 124 still alive. And she wanted everyone to see Laurie – her granddaughter.
I opened the garage door to peek out and see if her car was still there. It was despite the fact her kids had asked her not to drive a few months ago. I was surprised to see a second kitchen out there. Asking her what is that for she said “I like to cook out there sometimes, I can spread out more”. That is where I want to die she said. I asked what she meant. She said I have cooked all my life. I love it and I don’t want to die in an old folks home. I want to die right out there. I looked back into the garage a little closer – this time not for the car but for a second look at the extra kitchen.
She was married at 16 and then the kids started “a-comin”, as they say in Kansas. When the kids were about raised she had one more. The youngest is actually younger than four of her grandkids. So she was cooking all the time. Then she spent close to 20 years cooking at the high school – one of those schools where they make lunch from scratch – for everyone at school. Yep, it’s a small school. And her bread is famous all over the county. Kids grew up on it and their parents begged for it. She’s been selling homemade loaves since retiring – not for the money it brings but because people love her bread.
Not for the money she said. It was never about money for Ivy. I don’t think she had $2,000 in the bank. Her house was paid for. Her car was paid for. Her garden was fertile. Her shelves were stocked with cans from last years garden. If it wasn’t about the money – what was it about? It was about the people. Simple – if ya show up you get fed. If you are lonely you get a chat. If you came to town she put out a call and 30 people showed up.
So it looks like we will make the funeral. I just felt the plane start the decent into Kansas City. (Been 26 hours since we left Melbourne). The funeral will be in the community center – only place big enough. I heard they are coming – not quite all of em but over 100 off spring. I heard they are serving bread – her five daughters know the recipe well.
And of course, when they knocked on the door Monday and she didn’t answer the first place they looked was in the kitchen – yep, the one in the garage. She had passed away in the place she loved the most. In the kitchen. She had everything, even at the end.