“Did you check the mail?”
No hi. No hello. No “How was your day?” None of that. As soon as I walked through the door, tired and stressed out, nine time out of ten that was the first question my grandmother asked me. It used to irritate me. Then, it became funny. The mail was important to her. Why? I haven’t the slightest clue. She asked me this so much that I was conditioned to check the mail before I went in the house. That was such a grievous task during the winter. The last thing I wanted to do was get out of a warm car into -20 degree weather and grab the handle of an ice-cold tin box. Laziness you say? No, I call it heat preservation.
Sometimes, I would come home to any empty mailbox.
“I went to the mailbox today. Don’t tell your grandfather, though,” she would say with her infectious smile. I would smile back and kiss her on the forehead, “Yes ma’am.”
One day I came inside to the usual question. I had completely forgotten. My job at the time was the definition of stressful (oh yes… there’s another post to come on that one). The short five-minute drive home was not enough time to detox from the circus that was my place of employment. However, I get lost in thought easily. Thus, when I pulled up to the driveway the mail was the last thing on my mind. I walked through the door and didn’t even get halfway inside the house.
“Did you check the mail?”
The customary inquiry gave me a special spasm of irritation. I immediately swung around with reluctance in my steps and annoyance in my chest.
“Why in the world is this mail so important? Can’t I get inside before she asks me? I don’t even get a ‘hello’ before I get asked about this. Whatever. I’m going to my room to play my Xbox.”
All of these thoughts in such a short distance. I came back inside to a grandmother who obviously knew she had upset me.
“Thank you, baby.” I replied with a short “you’re welcome,” and I jetted downstairs to my room.
January 23, 2015
I had just walked in the door from being at my grandmother’s house. She wasn’t doing well at all. Before I left I kissed her forehead and said, “I love you, Honey. I’ll see you tomorrow.” My faith in God is such that I know he would heal her no matter what the prognosis. My God is a healer, and I will forever stand on that. So, I left with no worries. My grandmother taught me that. She would always say, “Trust God, baby! He’ll never fail you!”
I’m laying down on the phone when I received a call from my mom.
“She’s gone, Jarrod. She’s gone.”
I jerked up out of my bed. And I laughed. Not a wow this is funny laugh. Not a knee-slapper tell that joke again laugh. Not a gust buster you’re a great comedian laugh. No. It was a you can’t honestly be serious right now laugh.
I clicked over, told my original phone companion my grandmother had passed, and let them go. I whipped the phone on my bed with painful ferocity. It’s easy to throw things when you know they won’t break. I stood there for a moment breathing heavily with my hands on my hips. Huffing and puffing.
“You can’t be mad, Jarrod.”
God spoke to me in that moment. My reaction was supposed to be one of anger. Despair. Vitriol. That’s not what my grandmother taught me. She said trust God. I calmed down and prayed.
It’s amazing what we let anger us. I allowed one simple question to become vexatious. Now, I long to hear her ask me again. It’s funny though, and I have to chuckle to myself about it. When I pull up to my grandparents house, I go check the mail. Some things never change.
I got the mail, Honey.