Two degrees off-center…


Dear Rosa,

If one were to liken a soul to a gyroscope, then mine was knocked off-center by two degrees some thirty years ago.  The day my grandmother died.

Mary Ferry, “Mrs. Ferry” she was called by all the neighbors. You knew her as daughter. For me she was simply “Grammy.” I’ve written of her, scattered thereabouts, stories of her tough spirit, romantic side and always the pragmatic approach to grand kids.

So why write of her again and why now?


Because, as I look back over the past six months, I see a pattern and hear a child’s grief of all that is lost to me. No one said the people I grew up with wouldn’t be there forever. All those Uncles and Aunts and cousins – the ones that filled Grammy’s kitchen and brought life, anger, joy and sorrow. These people were supposed to be around for the great “always.”


Some passed away too soon. Long before they were ready.

Clarence fought. He fought like hell to stay just one more day. Still, it wasn’t enough.


Others, like Everett – the scrawny lad pictured on the left couldn’t wait to leave.

The bottle took care of that.

And Earle  – the one of the far right? Mean man. Didn’t like him. But he was my father’s brother.

He visited Gram so often that he became a fixture. So, to a small child’s mind, he would always be around, right?


And the ones that left me later in life? Them I miss the most.

Maybe because I felt they really would be here forever, like Hyrim and his sweet wife, Rae.


Or Paul and Lilah.

And the last to leave won’t be the last. The gyroscope is wobbling now as I watch my parents age.


When I see this dashing figure, standing in front of his beloved plane and think –

how can Dad not be here to tell me the stories? No one will be left that remembers.


And my mom. My sweet and so incredibly lovely mother.

How could I even contemplate my world without her?

And so you see, it won’t take much to send that gyroscope careening again.

I still have my four brothers and I’m going to treasure them always. Aunts and Uncles and cousins to my daughters.

Ones that gather at Christmas to eat and laugh and love.

Were we ever that young?

It’s just – how do I tell my kids that always is not always forever?


17 thoughts on “Two degrees off-center…

    1. One can only hope, but don’t worry, I’m in the same boat.Two teenagers – what’s not to love about that!
      Still, they are absolutely mad for their Nana (my mom) – and I’m so glad for that!

  1. Lovely and thoughtful post, Sue. Thoroughly enjoyed reading through it and looking at the wonderful pictures.

    My world was recently knocked off center (by more than two degrees) when my father passed away last November 30th. I’ve watched my parents age, and I’ve watched my father become older and weaker and, finally, succumb to cancer. Thankfully my mom is still doing wonderfully and seems to be just as healthy as ever, though emotionally she’s dealing with the loss of a husband after nearly sixty years.

    How do you tell your kids? I don’t know. I never thought much about it until this last year when my dad got sick. Now I think about it a lot, and I realize that there really aren’t that many left in my family.

    Anyway, didn’t mean to be morose … I actually did really like your post 🙂

    1. It’s so hard to let go of the expectation that they’ll always be there, always be just a phone call a way. For now, I’m sure the loss is still so fresh for you, Dave and I’m sorry for that.
      It’s a precious thing, still having your mom around and knowing she’s well. As to what to tell the kids?
      I guess we have to figure that one out as we go along.
      Take care –

  2. I so relate to this.. I lost my father 5 years ago and the grief almost swallowed me, then 2 years ago my mother passed, again, the hole widened. It seems as if it’s just me out here in the world as my 3 brothers all live in different towns..family history is so important for those that come behind us.. this has me thinking that perhaps I should be writing some of my memories down instead of selfishly keeping them inside of me.

    1. I’m really sorry for your loss, Lynne. Life sucks, sometimes. Am I right? But then joy comes in such simple moments – a memory that brings a smile. I hope you do write and share these memories. They can be very cathartic. Even the sad ones make me remember the person as someone who lived and breathed and made mistakes.
      Sending a hug to you-

  3. So loved this Sue.I hate it when loved ones die and trying to get over grief is tough.We are so much a like in that respect.I love having my mom still here and dread the day when She isn’t with me anymore.I always try to savor time.It goes so fast.Blessings.

    1. Yeah – writing this post was a way of reflecting on who’s gone – but also who I still have. I’m thankful for my mom and dad, too.
      So nice to hear from you, Liz.
      Blessing right back –

  4. “It’s just – how do I tell my kids that always is not always forever?” – my favorite line.
    Oh, I miss my relatives that are gone. There is a whole generation that I felt connected to that is gone. Alas, there aren’t too many to remember with to make sure I’m remembering correctly, or to ask what I don’t know. But then, who am I talking to…you completely understand. You are right, we are thankful for who is here, but oh, so bittersweet sometimes. Good post sweet friend!

    1. Ah, it’s so nice to see you, Denise and thanks for the lovely comment. This topic is one we all have in common, isn’t it? And yes, bittersweet says it all.
      love and hugs to you!

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