Monday, November 27th, 2017
My Mimi died right before Thanksgiving. I haven’t really wanted to talk about it; I didn’t tell any friends, I didn’t post on social media. I told my cat as I cried into her fur. Grief is a funny thing. I simply don’t seem able to talk about it yet, but I have written quite a lot. It seems easier.
This may not be the most eloquent thing I ever write, but I just want to share about her. I want to celebrate her- who she was and who she was to me.
We talked on the phone many times a week throughout my entire freshman year of college. I was so homesick, and Mimi always knew how to comfort me. Sometimes she would just listen to me cry. It was such a gift to have gone to college within driving distance of them. Nathan and I would often go and visit for the weekend, and Mimi would feed us and we would be loved on by her and Papa, and my homesickness would be quelled. She had such a motherly way about her. I suppose that is what happens when you raise five children.
My whole life, whenever I spent time with Mimi and Papa, she would rub my back and talk with me as I fell asleep. Her wrinkled hands, covered in rings and topped off with perfectly manicured nails, were the agents of immense comfort and love.
When I had to start taking anti-anxiety medication and was so nervous and overwrought with the decision, she sat in bed with me and rubbed my back telling me that it was okay to need some extra help for a little while. She was right and, while I’m no longer on the medication, it was a savior to me and I may never have started it had she not encouraged me to accept the opportunity to get better.
She was the first person I remember telling me as a little person that God had a plan for my life and that I needn’t worry about the things I had no control over because He already knew the outcome.
I spent countless hours in her tiny kitchen helping her cook, watching her consult her very old Betty Crocker cookbook, and eating the mountains of food she would always make when we would visit. I would spend time with her and Papa during the summers when I was younger and all of my favorites, fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, would make an appearance the first few days I was there. Mimi believed in feeding people well.
After I got married, she made me an apron for every season and holiday. They hang in my kitchen as beautiful reminders of her and of the many meals we ate together.
She taught me how to play dominoes and solitaire and to write in cursive. She showed me the importance of handwritten letters and cards- I have boxes stashed in my closet of the things she has written to me. Her years of being a teacher permeated our every interaction. She was always teaching me something. Most importantly, she taught me about love. She taught me about the incredible love of grandparents and of family.
I remember the way she smelled, like warm desert dirt and Estee Lauder hand cream. A year ago, she sent me a jar of that hand cream. She scooped some from her jar into an old, ornately decorated Avon jar. Mimi always had the perfect box or jar or container hanging around. The jar sits next to my bathroom sink, and I smooth it over my hands before bed and hold them up to my nose whenever I am feeling lonely.
Last night, I held the jar up to my nose and inhaled deeply and just missed her.
In Mimi’s arms, in her house in Bowie, in her sewing room, in her garden there was no anxiety or fear; the outside world didn’t reach in. There was just love and warmth and bright Arizona sunshine. I don’t remember a time in the last six years that I didn’t cry as I drove away from their house and from them.
Though I know that my future children will have wonderful grandparents, it pains me to know that they will never get to meet my Mimi. I wasn’t prepared for how much it would grieve me that she would never get to hold my babies.
My Dad always tells me that part of our eternal life is the way we are remembered and talked about by those that knew us and loved us. It brings me peace to know that my children will hear of my Mimi and will know of the love she gave to me and the love she would have had for them.
I wasn’t prepared for losing her. I knew it was coming. I knew when her cancer was discovered and was spreading rapidly that I would not have her on this earth forever. Yet, love and grief seem to defy logic. Everyone dies, but my heart and my brain simply could not create a picture of my world without her. She was in pain at the end, and the thought of her hurting was perhaps more painful than the thought of losing her. I am glad she is no longer in pain and that she is at peace.
I could write pages and pages about my Mimi, about what she meant to me, about who she was, about the 23 years of memories I shared with her.
Elizabeth Eyrich, Mimi, was warm and smart and loving and an incredible grandmother. I miss her so terribly. My heart aches, but it is also so thankful for the time I had with her. I wouldn’t have been who I am without her.