February never passes by without some introspective thoughts. FYI- Don’t look for me in Target tomorrow. I’m not very superstitious and I don’t believe that because something happens once it will happen again, but I certainly don’t push my luck when I can help it.
As upturned as my life became on February 28, 2005, I did finally settle into a happy, rewarding and satisfied new world. It took almost 2 years to sort it out and know where God wanted me. When I was brought to a crossroads, God led me to the Cross. When I chose the road less traveled I knew His blessings were on me and He would carry me into unchartered territory. He would carry my burdens and hold me in His tender care during those uncomfortable months until I became settled.
I enjoyed every moment of the next 2 years while I still had Hunter had home with me. Having been a working mom when Justin was little, I cherished the days Hunter and I had together and we anxiously awaited the big yellow bus every afternoon when Justin would get home.
When Hunter started school, I flinched momentarily, wondering what moments would take my breath away just as being at home with the boys had. The transition was short as we all realized I had been created for such a time as this. My Grandmother was well into her 90’s and though she kept a busy social schedule, it was obvious she needed a bit of help to make her day to day life a bit easier. Everyone knew, without even discussing it, that I would help fill this role in her life while my boys were in school.
It’s worth noting here that I have realized some things about my Grandparents that I had not before adequately acknowledged. Since my Grandmother’s death, I have poured over family mementos they left behind. They were smart, intuitive and wise beyond their years. Quite frankly, they just seemed to know how our roles would play out before it was even reasonable to think that far ahead.
I was reading the Workman family genealogy that my Grandfather spent his retirement researching back to the early 1700’s and when our descendants left Ireland in 1772 and arrived in America. While my Grandmother was busy as “an indefatigable worker toward establishing a Retirement Community in Davidson” (my Grandfather’s own description of his bride in our genealogy), he kept himself busy researching in grand detail our family. He then, nearly legally blind himself, painstakingly typed on an old school manual typewriter everything he had unearthed. On December 12, 1986 he gave each of us his finished work, photocopied and assembled in a simple 3 hole punched paper notebook. As I flipped through the pages I found myself, Mary Gatewood Payne (II, D, 4, c, (8) (d) 2, *b) ….I told you it is detailed! Then I read his description of me when I was only 13 years old, “Mother of us all.” My mind raced back to that moment in front of his grave when God spoke to me at a crossroads in my life and told me which direction to follow. And now here I see in black and white, I think my Grandfather knew all along which road I would take.
When my Grandmother moved into healthcare over 2 years ago we worked quickly to pack up and move all her personal belongings from her apartment. As I was cleaning out their old cedar chest from storage and packing up books, photo albums and the massive amount of things my Grandfather kept from his time serving in WWII as Chaplain on the USS Granville, I came across some books wrapped up in a white garbage bag. The label on the bag read “For Gatewood (my caretaker). My scrapbook and senior year college annual. Love, Emmer”. That cedar chest had not been opened in years and the white bag was in the very bottom. “My caretaker”, how in the world could she have known that was the role I would fill in her life? I knew she had labeled the bag long before the events in my life led me to her side. How did she know? How did he know when I was 13 that I was being molded and shaped to become a mother to more than just my own children? Wise and intuitive beyond their years!
She became more than a Grandmother over these last years. She was my friend, and we had a connection that was visible to those who saw us together. I could hear in her voice what she needed before she even told me. She knew when things were going on in our lives even when we didn’t tell her. On many occasions she would call me early in the morning because she had been awakened in the night and knew one of her children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren was in need. I learned quickly not to try to play off her instincts. She knew that she knew, and she was not one with whom you tried to sugar coat the obvious. I miss her. Her loss is huge and none of us realized the extensive impact our beloved matriarch had during her 97 years.
So here I am, 8 years after the accident that led me to her. She has finally been reunited with her groom and she has found everlasting peace. I’m fairly certain they are enjoying their afternoon cocktails and unsalted Planters peanuts (served out of old peanut jar lids so it’s portioned appropriately) together again. And, I am at another crossroads; where grief, anger and denial meet with the road that leads me into the unknown. I keep thinking I will unearth some note from years earlier where she has written what is next for me when she is gone. My role as a granddaughter has come to an end. In some ways it feels similar to the time when my role as an employee ended. But this time, even as I sit at the Cross, I haven’t heard God’s direction for this crossroad. The silence is painful, but when He has not answered then I know His answer for now is to wait.
My resumé is a little shorter now, wife, mother and daughter. Tomorrow will come and go, not without a lot of memories to pass the time, but tomorrow will end. It will mark another moment in time where I’m trying to embrace change, accept my brain injury, live with epilepsy and learn to wait.
Copyright © Gatewood Campbell, April 2013