Visiting Grandma Tootie

On Memorial Day we drove to Weston, OR to take flowers to Great-Grandma Tootie’s grave. First we stopped by her lane and drove by her house to see her flowers. The house is sold to someone else now. We have talked to Autumn about Tootie often. She died when Autumn was two. Tootie is the reason we were able to buy our house and Autumn helped me plant the roses in front of our house in thank you and in tribute to her own beautiful yard.

But as we were pulling up to the cemetery, it was clear that Autumn was feeling confused. As we drove closer to the caretaker’s house, Autumn asked if this was Grandma Tootie’s new house. I tried to explain the best that I could that Grandma Tootie had died and that we were visiting her grave.

Once we got to the grave site, Grandma Sharon began arranging flowers from her yard for her mom. As we walked the flowers to the grave site, Grandma Sharon and Don began to tell stories about Grandma Tootie. Then Autumn asked to see inside the grave. Whew. It’s so hard to explain death especially since she doesn’t remember Grandma Tootie before she died.

We left the cemetery and then headed home. From the back seat Autumn said; “When I get home, I’m going to play grave.” The moment we walked in the house from our four-hour drive, she headed down the stairs, turned back to me and said; “Stay here.” I really wasn’t sure what she was going to do but I let her be. She came up later and didn’t say a word about Tootie again. That night as I was cleaning up downstairs I came across what she had been playing with. She had a Halloween set that had grave stones and a fence with skulls all set up. It made me realize how much she is able to process herself. And how important play is for working through her ideas and thoughts. Because really we all need to figure out what death is to each of us in our very own way.

Thank you Grandma Tootie for helping Autumn because even though you aren’t here with us physically, you’ll always be such an important part of our lives.

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