the sun still shines for you
I don’t think I ever heard her complain. She made nice comments, asked direct questions, and would occasionally drop a sharp and witty comment without changing her tone. Her laugh was quiet but I felt like she must be roaring inside.
When I was little we would spend time in the garden together. She would sit on a lawn chair while I brought her cans of dirt soup. If she ever got tired of this game, I never noticed, as she always played along in eating whatever I gave her.
For most of my life she has lived several provinces away. Living in New Brunswick earned her the nickname “far away grandma”. For a long time I knew her through Christmas cards, a note scrolled in perfect handwriting, and short phone calls.
Everything about her, her writing, her tone of voice, has always felt strong and confident. Years after her husband’s death she never slowed down once. She was even part of a bowling team.
This summer she flew to Vancouver for my cousin’s wedding. When we decided to dress up in Indian dress for a party she didn’t hesitate. She picked out a soft pink outfit in India town, a simple outfit at a reasonable price, and joined right in. I think I only ever saw my grandma wear soft pink, her clothes always spotless and without wrinkles.
When she pulled out her Indian pants from their package we discovered each pant leg was the size of her whole body. Rather than get upset she laughed. I never saw her show any kind of resentment.
At the party she looked stunning. She was a small woman, glowing in soft pink. My tall, dark haired, gorgeous cousin often took her by the arm, and was always making sure she was okay. When the photographer asked us to get into Charlie’s Angels stance, my grandma pulled a fierce face and put her hands into the shape of a gun. Her personality was full of good surprises.
She died this morning. It’s hard to accept. I spoke to her on Christmas morning and she sounded chirpy and well. My brother had thought of sending her a gift basket and she was happy about it.
I’ve been in a bit of a daze about it. The pain comes in waves. But like my grandmother, I’m going to be strong and confident. I’m going to take long walks, enjoy small pleasures, and maybe even go bowling once and a while.
Rest in peace Zillah Young, you’ve walked a long way.