My paternal grandmother, my Mee Maw, died around 9:15 AM Dallas time. I’m roiling a bit in mortality, starting to realize that yes indeed, I’m across the line where life stops giving you things and it starts taking them away.

Iain Banks has terminal cancer and has less than a year to live. Roger Ebert posted about how he wanted to take a step back to deal with his health then died two days later. My beloved male golden Buddy is sick and we might have to put him down soon.

I am so fortunate to have known my grandparents, members of the greatest generation. All my grandfathers were involved in WW2. All my grandmothers too in their own way both official and not. All the males have died. Mee Maw was the first of the mothers.

Mee Maw, such a silly name for a matron of a large and wondrous family. A name filled with love but somehow diminishing of the scope of her contribution and influence. A child’s name that somehow over time can’t be replaced. I can’t think of her as Joan Toulouse.

She was my Mee Maw.

She made an astounding oyster stuffing that to this day remains a secret from me, and divinity that I would look forward to the entire year as a child. Fluffy white, nutty tan, and a chocolate that was rich and deeply satisfying. I remember the toy drawer in their house, hot wheels cars and puzzle games. Their dog Molly. Family arguments. The sound of her voice above it all. Mee Maw.

Like all humans she wasn’t flawless. No one is. If I be speaker of the dead in this case I can name plenty some grievances I had against her treatment of my mother when my father left us.

And yet I remember her cradling the head of my Paw Paw, her husband, in her hands after he died during a heart surgery.

“He was good.” she said in that moment as her tears spilled onto his face, and I was beside myself at seeing my first dead body and it being my grandfather.

“He was ornery. But good.”

He was ornery. And he was good. She had feared the worst during that terrible moment and it had come true and she simply held his lifeless cheek, yellowed by a death only minutes passed, and spoke the truth. Can I say now grievances are important? They are not.

And so mortality roils, as it does for everyone at some point. We’re here, then not. Those we love and cherish, flaws and all, are here. Then not. Sometimes we know when it can happen and have some time, sometimes not.

I hugged Buddy tonight, and searched for affordable flights to Dallas for the funeral.

I got to see her this October at my brother’s wedding and she was alert and we had a good talk.

I wish, I dearly wish, I had gotten that astoundingly good oyster dressing recipe. I would have liked to have made it for her.


  1. Black_Six says:

    I’m so sorry to hear that Stepto.

    Just try to remember the thirty-plus years you had with her though, and all the good memories you have. You’ll always have those. :)

  2. David Inglehart says:

    Sorry for the loss of your Mee Maw. I am willing to bet that she preferred that moniker to all the others that she was called through the years. My family will offer prayers for your Mee Maw and Buddy.

  3. It’s always tough to know what to say in these situations! I could say that I know how you feel, but that’s not exactly the truth. Sure, I’ve lost my own grandparents and felt the sadness of their deaths, but I don’t know your relationship with your Mee Maw and have no way of knowing if your sadness is the same as what mine was. I could also say that I’m sorry for your loss and that my thoughts are with you and yours but, although true, it comes off sounding trite and cliche.

    The one thing I will say, is there is a lesson to be learned from every situation. No matter how tragic or inexplicable, there is always something that you can take away that will help you grow as a human being. Again, this might also sound trite and cliche, but I truly believe it! Stay strong Stepto and keep searching for those lessons!

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