My grandmother drove a powder blue Monte Carlo. Whenever she drove anywhere, she was constantly approached by men and teenage boys who wanted to buy her car. She had no interest in selling it. She loved that car intensely and even said she wanted to be buried in it. I’d dismiss her idea as crazy, then quietly wonder how wide of a hole they’d have to dig to do such a thing. I’d picture the grounds keeper sweating profusely as he dug. After half a day, he’d finally finished digging the hole, and like a traffic cop, he signaled the others to lower it into the ground using a crane.
I know that karma is real. It is real down to the most thoughtless and basic incidences in life. Last night, when I was going through my desk, I came across a thick stack of greeting cards bundled together with elastic bands. This stack of cards consisted of every card I ever gave my grandmother from the time I was a small child to the time that she died. She saved every one of them. After her death, my father came across them and gave them to me.
My grandmother and I were very close, so close that she left me her diary. For more than a decade leading up to her death, she’d prep me with very specific directions on what to do with her diary in the event of her passing. Every so often, she’d bring me over to her wooden dresser to pull open the bottom drawer and point the diary out to me. She told me that when she died I was to take it and read it. At the time I was very young; young enough to believe that this day would never come.
A while after her death, I mentioned to the rest of my family that I had my grandmother’s diary. Their response surprised me: they didn’t even know she had one. I haven’t brought myself to read past the first five or ten pages, but even in those few pages, I found out that she had lied to me back when she was alive.
In my late teens, she insisted that when she was young, she never stayed out past nine and that I shouldn’t either. How strange that I should find out by page three of her diary, in her early twenties, she “stayed out well past midnight to stop at a diner and drink coffee with the boys.”
After I put aside the stack of cards, I came across a sealed envelope. The letter was addressed to her, but instead of an having an actual street address with a city, state, and zip, it merely read “Heaven.” She died five years ago, and I couldn’t remember when I wrote this letter, but I know with certainty, it was in a moment of grief. I’d pleaded with the universe to let me communicate with her after her death, to no avail. I must have figured that writing her a letter was worth a try.
There were only two times she came to me in my dreams, until a week ago. The first time happened a day or so after her death. In the dream, I was back on campus at the University of Arizona. With a sea of people, I walked through a large underpass. When I came out on the other side of the tunnel, my grandmother was standing there. She merely said “Hi.” I could still hear her voice. It was literally as clear as a bell. I woke up crying.
The second time, I dreamt I was at her old house, a house that had been sold many years ago. I walked over to the garage where she stood and exclaimed, “Hi, Hayley!” But last week’s dream was the most unusual of them all.
Still annoyed that she’d left me several years ago, as soon as I saw her, I blatantly said, “I thought you were dead.” She didn’t answer me, but it seemed apparent that no, she was not dead. In the dream, she did not speak, but communicated with me telepathically. I couldn’t help but ask her,“So how old are you now, if you didn’t die?” She didn’t really answer that question either. Maybe it was because I had a reputation for being what she used to call a “smart aleck.” On a more serious note, I asked if the tumor in her throat still bothered her (she died from complications to esophageal cancer). She telepathically relayed to me that no, it doesn’t bother her now because it’s gone.
When she was living, my father had to always look over her bills because as she got older, a lot of times, she had trouble deciphering what they meant. During our entire interaction, she kept showing me the same piece of paperwork: emission papers for her car. She urged me to look at them. I assumed she needed me to help her understand what they meant. I reread the papers over and over as we stood together in a large parking lot in front of her Monte Carlo, which was no longer blue but a shade of red.
It turns out that the reason she wanted me to look at those papers was to help her determine whether or not her car had passed emissions. I had a hard time determining the answer. All I remember is that the paper had a lot of boxes with check marks written in black Sharpie marker. In retrospect, I think she was trying to show me something else; that even though we didn’t bury her in her car, she’d somehow taken it with her.