Thursday, July 11, 2013

Corn knives and Sunflowers

So I don't really feel like writing much. I know there's a lot to write about; end of school, five weeks in Nebraska, The Commander getting a day shift. But I'm feeling a little blue.

While the girls and I were back in Nebraska, my grandmother passed away. But we didn't call her grandma, she was Grams. My family was lucky enough to live just across the road from Grams and Granddad for all of my life. Grams always had food and something fun to do at her house so we were always running across the road to visit her. She fed you the second you walked in the door and you never left her house empty handed. She always had some trinkets to share with me and then later with my girls when we visited her.

I'm still struggling with her being gone, but even as I start to get emotional and tear up, I begin to grin and giggle. Because Grams was someone that you can only smile and laugh when you remember how tough she was.

When the pastor asked us how we would sum up Grams in a word or two, I said Superwoman. I have memories of Grams snatching flies in midair and crushing them in her fist while we sat and chatted at the dinner table. She once pointed out a small depression in her yard and told me there had been a bunch of small garter snakes sunning themselves in it the day before. I thought she was going to ask me to fill it in for her, but she told me that she got so irritated seeing them that she went over and stomped them all to death.

This woman didn't need super powers, she created her OWN class of awesome-ness.

And then there is the corn knife story.

Do you know what a corn knife is? It is basically a machete. A long, tapered knife with a squared-off end, that is about as long as your calf. I have no idea how it was named, but I assume it is because you carry them out into corn fields and used them to chop down man-sized weeds so they don't get in the combine when you harvest the corn.

My Dad tells the story better, but here's my version.

Grams always had a corn knife in the trunk of her car. Why? Because she hated sunflowers. Nothing bothered her more than seeing sunflowers growing in my Dad's fields. So on the way to church, her hairdressers, or anywhere I guess, if she saw a sunflower in the field, she would remember to stop on the way home, pop the trunk, grab her corn knife and march out into the field and hack it to bits.

Well when she got to be older (and don't be thinking I mean older as in fifty, I'm talking closer to EIGHTY) they started to worry that she might hurt herself doing that, so Dad would walk across the road to her garage, and take her corn knife out of the trunk. Of course living on a farm, you don't just have ONE corn knife, so Grams would go hunting around the farm, find another corn knife and put it in her trunk when Dad took hers out.

Dad loves to tell this story. And he got to add a little more to the story because when he went to look at flowers for the casket, the first thing he saw was three beautiful SUNFLOWERS sitting in the cooler. He told Mom and I when he got home that if he put those on her casket, she would probably hop out to cut them up herself.

Later, Mom and I were talking when Dad wasn't around and she said, "I think we should get a corn knife, spray paint it gold, and put it in the ground by her grave."

I responded with a smile, "I think we should BURY her with one!"

So when my sister-in-law and I went to town to get some groceries and a dress for me to wear to the funeral, we set out to buy a corn knife. A side note, if you have to explain to a clerk in a store what a corn knife is, they don't have any. However, when you go into Tractor Supply Company and ask for a corn knife, the reply is, "We have a great selection." We bought a corn knife and some gold spray paint and when we got back to my parents, I sprayed the knife gold and hid it behind the house to dry.

On the day of the family visitation, I loaded up the knife and brought it along. Dad saw the handle sticking out of the bag when I walked in and said, "What do you have in there?" His grin was priceless when he saw the gold corn knife and he asked me what I was going to do with it. He gave a little shake of his head, and did his little scoff/laugh like only my dad can, when I told him I wanted to bury it with her.

Later, when we sat down with the pastor to share our memories of Grams, Dad had me pull the knife out to show the pastor before dad told the corn knife in the trunk story. Everyone smiled as he told it. And finally, after we shared our memories, I took the corn knife in, opened Grams' casket, and laid it down beside her.

At the family burial the next day, Mom, my Sister-in-law and I had yellow pinwheels that we decorated to look like sunflowers for all of Grams' great-grandkids to put around her grave to make everyone smile and maybe chuckle just a little while they grieve.

And as I sit here, still grieving, smiling, and chuckling just a little, I know that there was no better way to say good-bye to such as amazing woman.