My phone rang early Monday morning. This is a rare event in my home. No one ever calls me. Not wanting to budge from the warmth and comfort of my bed, I hesitated to get up and answer the ring. But, something pushed me to get up. I just had this feeling that I should answer the phone on the next ring. I can’t describe the feeling exactly.
I quickly glanced at the screen before answering. It was my uncle calling me. He never calls me. I swallowed my heart just then. I knew this wasn’t going to be good. And yet, I answered the phone seemingly happy and pretended to not show any concern or anxiety. After the normal polite greetings, he delivered the heart wrenching news.
My Grandma Helen Carl Corbett had passed away.
An avalanche of grief hit me!
The news was expected in a way. My grandma had just turned 98 years old and hadn’t been in good health for awhile. But that didn’t prepare me for the impact this news has brought to me. I have been very close to my both of my Corbett grandparents my entire life. They have played a huge part in my life.
Seeing as though both my mother and father have been largely absent participants in my life, all of my grandparents have filled those big shoes. But the relationship I had with my Grandma Helen was even more special. She means everything in the world to me. She was a great teacher, leader, mentor, cheerleader, and example.
She was fiercely competitive and stubborn as an ox. But I always knew where I stood with her. She was anything but submissive and quiet. Despite how much this part of her frustrated and annoyed me at times, it was also one of her greatest traits. That woman defined the phrase, “You can move mountains.” She moved them, rearranged them, and re-stacked them to her liking.
But she was also the most loyal, honest and caring person I have ever met. I always knew she was there for me, no matter the circumstance. She didn’t always understand or agree, but that didn’t effect her allegiance to me. I knew she was there. I knew I only had to call. I knew she would never disappear or abandon me. This was so important to me. She was always there when no one else appeared.
We shared so many of the same interests. We both intensely loved sports of all kinds. I enjoyed many conversations with her as we discussed the outcome of the latest NFL or Duke University basketball game.
And yet we were different as well. My grandma loved social activities. For as long as I can remember, she has hosted many the grand gatherings in her home. She loved it! She was very definitely a social elite. She knew many people in “higher places” but never used that as some sort of social status. She just got along with and made friends everywhere she went.
She had more self-confidence than anyone I have ever known. No one and nothing ever made her miss a step. She was commanding in stature, voice and action. She could have been a General in our armed forces. She was never one to “toot her own horn.” Nothing ever seemed to phase her or deter her. She was a giant in her own right and I have always respected and admired that part of her.
I have lost a HUGE part of my heart and soul. My world has been shattered and my life has been altered.
Just when I think I can’t cry anymore, I begin to sob some more. This avalanche of grief has buried me. I know my grandma wouldn’t want me to give up or to give in. But the enormity of how I’m feeling combined with my everyday struggle with depression is almost too much.
I love you, Grandma…more than words can ever describe!
RIP: Helen Carl Corbett, Sept. 26, 1918 – Sept. 29, 2016