She knew she was going to die. Maybe not how soon. Maybe not the exact day. But. She knew she was going to die.
Nobody else knew. But she knew. And she hadn’t received any type of diagnosis of disease or prognosis of impending death. But somehow she knew.
And she began to make what she perceived to be the necessary preparation.
One thing she did long before her death was to make provision for the grandchild she was raising. She regularly implored her best friend at church to assume the rearing responsibility for the little girl she loved so much. They both loved so much. The little girl always found the familiar lap of the church friend every Sunday. And before church was over began to ask if she could accompany her home after church.
Her name was Myrtle, the one who knew she was going to die. She had the house painted, bought new furniture and perked up her surroundings in a hundred different ways. All the while showing no sign of sickness except for the diabetes that had plagued her for a while and the menopausal changes that seemed no more than an extreme pain in the behind.
She also bought things for the grandchild she loved so much. And what could she possibly need? She already had her own room with her own television and her own set of children’s encyclopedia. She already had the heart and ear of the grandmother and grandfather that doted on her daily. She already had the total attention of her young uncle who took her everywhere he went, except into the army, where he was during this time.
It seemed like a reverse nesting – the kind of fussing and fixing that mothers do while they’re waiting for the birth of their children.
While Myrtle waited for whatever she saw in the distance, she fixed up the surroundings for those she would leave behind. Very nicely. Very intently.
And for the grandchild who already had everything, she bought dresses. What, to a six-year-old, seemed to be a closet full of dresses. The kind of dresses children wore on Easter Sunday. Pink. Yellow. Blue. Mint green. White. Lavendar.
So many dresses. Dresses that fit perfectly. Dresses that tickled the fancy of a little girl. A little girl who would have traded each dress for more time with her grandmother, who knew she was going to die.
And she did.
Just a couple of weeks after the dresses appeared. And the little girl went to live with the church friend who kept her word and raised the little girl until she became a woman.
I was that little girl.