The weekly calls from Rockford’s grandmother started shortly after we moved to Missouri. I didn’t know her all that well, but I welcomed the calls anyway because I was suddenly hundreds of miles from anyone I knew at all.
“Nichole, it’s Mom,” she’d say. “Sorry to bother you.”
“Mom, you’re never a bother,” I’d say, and that’s how most of our weekly conversations started for the next 17 years.
When the kids were babies, she’d tell me stories of when Rockford’s dad and aunt were babies. My father-in-law, she’d tell me, had always been a handful. When Rockford started traveling frequently, she’d tell me how she coped when Pop was overseas in the military and she was home alone with two small children. Sometimes she’d talk about her childhood or how she met Pop, but mostly she just wanted to hear about how we were doing.
After Pop passed I talked to her even more frequently. She was lonely, and I was worried about her. Most of the time I’d call her from parking lots while I was waiting for Poppy after soccer practice or Pete during guitar. She still wanted to hear about her great-grandchildren, but she was more forthcoming about herself in the last few years. She had trouble sleeping. She missed Pop. She still worried about her kids. She was forgetting things more and more often. She was ready to go.
She didn’t pick up the last time I called. I wish I’d known the last time I talked to her would be the last time I talked to her. I would’ve kept her a little longer.
I’m grateful to have known her. I’m relieved for her. I’m so sad. She was my friend, and I’m going to miss her.