My grandmother (Mama to her grandkids) died in her sleep about four months ago. She'd been getting progressively sicker for the better part of decade so I cant say it was totally unexpected. Somehow it still managed to blindside me. We weren't particularly close, I saw her on sundays after church (back when I went to church) and she lived with us for a brief while. I hadn't actually seen her since the last time I was in Ghana, almost three years ago. I always had mixed feelings about her. Truth be told, I hated her for a while. She hurt my mother more than once and treated all her daughters far worse than she treated her sons, even though her daughters took care of her. I'm not a vengeful person by nature. Generally I'm good at letting stuff go and not holding grudges. Except if you hurt my family. The things my grandmother did hurt my mother deeply and I never forgave her. After she died, I didn't mourn. A part of me felt happy in a perverse sort of way. Mostly though, I was conflicted.
A couple of weeks ago, I visited my aunt. While I was there, she handed me a huge stack of pictures she had taken when she was in Ghana for the funeral. Most of tham were pictures of family. My parents, cousins, uncles, aunts, family friends. Buried somewhere in the middle of the stack were two pictures of my grandmother in her casket.All of a sudden, old memories rose to the surface. I when I was a child, my mother would pass by her house every sunday after church. I'd run up to her and give her a kiss on the cheek. Then I would grab whatever sweets she had for me and run into her sitting room to watch cartoons and read my grandfather's old encyclopedias. When she got really sick for a while and came to live with us, she would be sitting on the porch every morning reading her bible. I would go by and kiss her in the cheek and watch her smile. Whatever she did in the past, she's still my grandmother and I'll never get to see her smile again. That hurts alot more than I expected. Wherever she is, I hope she can forgive me for carrying this grudge around for as long as I did. I'll miss her.