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  • Matt Breton

Gains and Losses


I've written here about loss before. I think part of me needs to write when I lose someone, almost as therapy.

My angle on this loss is different, for while sad, I see it as less tragic than some others.

My Gram passed away at the end of April at the age of 81 after a relatively short battle with cancer. She bravely chose not to do anything extraordinary to prolong her life, accepting the process as it was. She was ready, she told me in one of our last real conversations. We also talked about birds and green grass in that chat, and how long the winter had been and how it was still holding on. A conversation we'd had in a variety of forms for decades.

That was the way it was with Gram. Regular, down to earth, grounded, rooted. With my gramp, things were exciting- doing something sensational or adventurous was the rule. Gram provided the stability, the platform where things were launched and where they landed.

Lunch after a fruitless morning of bird hunting.

Coffee. A beer in the afternoon.

Dry mittens. Bread bags for leaky boots.

Knitting needles and conversations.

I'll probably picture her in the kitchen most often when I think back. A cousin shared a song that he thought was her- we cried at camp that night after we laid her in the ground.

Tyler Childers - Follow You To Virgie

The lyrics have some powerful lines, but the ones that hit home are about boys in the kitchen, heathens, who in the eyes of that mountain beauty, a grandmother, were saints. I picture a bunch of us, at different times, showing up in Gram's kitchen, usually around a hunting excursion, where that applies.

With her passing, I think I'm mourning not just her, but a loss of a foundation of my childhood and my growth- a connection.

The Gains

Despite what I feel like I've lost, I realize that tucked in there is all that I've gained, and all I had that many others have not. Family, roots, the old ways. Memories. A relationship with a young grandmother that seemed to be about a transition in life- as I was helpless and grew, she was helpful and slowly faded. Nature. Parts of her in the flowers that she loved. Parts of her in all of us who were lucky enough to know her.

Thoughts of her will last forever.


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