Eight years old is the age when a little girl should only have thoughts about what to dress her Barbie in, helping Dora the Explorer find her destination, or deciding if it is a pig-tail or pony-tail kind of day. A life where every visit to Grandma is one that you wrap her around your finger a little tighter and reap the rewards from being spoiled by her love.
The truth of the matter was that the spoiling went both ways. While grandma supplied treats, dolls to dress up, and pushes on the swing hanging from the tall oak tree in her yard, my daughter paid her back in giggles, smiles, and kisses. Her place as the first granddaughter certainly didn’t hurt her status in her grandma’s eyes. Every visit was a time of heavenly delight for both.
We lived almost an hour away from her, but due to the less than what seemed fair circumstances, we would visit her two or three times during the week and all day on Sunday, from the morning church service until the sun put itself to sleep over the country hills. These circumstances the family found itself embroiled with was what had become my least favorite word, cancer.
Out of some sense of obligation to protect her innocence about the injustices of life, the fact that the sweetest woman to grace the earth was being ravaged by one of the worst diseases, I decided not to tell my daughter about the battle her grandma was going through. My mom was happy to play along with the charade, of all the people she had to deal with in life, this happy little girl did not look at her with sad eyes.
She was a bright little girl and would notice things like her grandma losing her hair, the fatigue that the latest round of chemotherapy brought on that prevented those walks through the flowerbeds, or the long naps that she needed to take on Sunday afternoon. To this day I still don’t know if my mom and I made the right choice shielding her from what was happening and what the doctor's diagnosis of terminal cancer would mean in the end.
The end came fast and before anyone could be prepared, as if that notion was even something possible, the light of the most influential woman in my life was extinguished. I was thankful for the twenty-eight years I had with her, but I hurt for those years that wouldn’t come for my little girl. I felt she was robbed of something special, something beautiful..
On a Saturday afternoon, I held my little girl's hand as I took her for a walk out through the field by our house. The words were like barbed wire tearing at my throat as they came haltingly from my lips. The hardest truth I ever told was to my little girl explaining that her loving grandma was in heaven and she wouldn’t see her for a long time.
About the author
Don Money was raised in Arkansas on a farm. After ten years in the Air Force, he returned to his roots in Arkansas. He is married with five kids. His journey to become a writer began in the sixth grade when he wrote his first short story.