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Greatest Gift

A Prose for My Grandmother

“Ya want it, take it now!” she said, about the white cat I admire.

Knowing her days were numbered.

Knowing the hourglass of her life was dripping its last drop of sand.

Cornelia sat with her afternoon tea, in the pink chair, this had become part of the daily routine, of her energy winding down.

Wake up, get changed, walk to chair, eat, watch TV, go back to bed.

Sounds standard, until you realize that the ‘get changed’ refers to someone else changing your depends, and the ‘walk to chair’ is accompanied by a helper or two.

This woman was once one of vibrancy. She’d travel and go out and have fun. Only ever staying home so the family had a place to come together during holidays and celebrations.

Now moving is a struggle. “An object in motion stays in motion. An object at rest stays at rest.”

Quite frankly when the movement stops, so does life. Grandma Cornelia acepted this.

Meeting every 'how she was doing' question with, “Just waiting on God.” She was ready.

I wasn’t. I’m still not ready and she’s already gone.

All I said was, "I’ve always like the cat."

 It was white and ceramic and one of those fluffy cats, and it turns out she made it. Half of the ceramics in her house she made. I’m not sure if she made them in the US or brought them over from Trinidad. But she is an artist. She’s also a giver.

As a child, she’d hide money for me all over the house. 

She’d point, “Lift that thing there,” and boom $20.

She brought me back a doll from Trinidad, purchased anything I ever wanted, had a thousand-dollar bond in my name, always spoke to me honestly, no matter my age, and allowed me to be myself no matter how grating. She gave me many gifts. Best of all was laughter.

And now she was telling me to take her cat and anything else I wanted from her before someone else did. I struggle to process this. After all, which is worse, taking from someone while their alive or waiting until after they breath out their last bit of light and then pillaging their stuff. I suppose it’s different if they grant permission. But is it really? truly?

Truly, I’ve always loved and watched that cat. But not at the expense of death. That’s far too steep. If it meant I could keep her or bring her back. I’d trade in the cat for the bluntness, the sharp and rude comments that hurt but sometimes made us laugh. The strength to carry the whole family, plus all the Trinis in Baltimore on her back.

The blue cookie tins that were actually filled with cookies, not sewing supplies or hair products. Letting me lick the spoon and the bowl when we baked. The comments on how fat I was, only then to turn around and feed me twice as much as the average human should eat. The alcohol bottles that were away on that one shelf my whole life, conveniently disappeared once I turned 21. The nasty rum cake that was blacker than the devil’s soul and basically solidified rum no cake. The bees you always talked too, and the bugs you never feared, that kept me on my toes. The wigs I used to try on and parade around in.

The greatest gift you ever gave me was you.

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