The day was manic to say the least.
I left work a little early, sneaking off the ship around two o'clock. Wife and I took the kids out shopping. I don't really remember what we were looking for, now. We went to Target, ran around there forever. Wife gets ideas, you see. She will envision something in here head and drag us around store after store until the vision is a reality. I'm not sure about the exact mechanics of the transformation of thought to matter, but I do know that involves large amounts of cash.
So we had been at Target all damn day

and when we got home, the girlies were cranky and we had to fight with them to brush their teeth and get in bed, but finally around ten o'clock at night, all the chilluns were asleep and we had a moment to ourselves. I could hear my wife move about in the kitchen, rustling bags and putting things away, while I picked up the remains of my children's day in the living room. The phone rang and shattered our brief moment of domestic tranquility. Checking caller id, I didn't recognize the number, but bill collectors don't call that late, so I answered it.
It was my dad

He told me that my grandma had died in a car accident on Ortega Highway that day. He broke down a moment later, and handed the phone to my mom. I kept saying "wow", "damn" and "Jeez" as my mom relayed the story of her day. My wife, watching me react, stage whispered "What happened?...What happened??" Finally I cupped the phone with my hand and said, "Granny died today, in a car accident on Ortega Highway."
Actually speaking the words brought the idea of it all into a new focus.

Wow. Damn. Jeez. Shock is the only way to describe the feelings I was having. I gave the phone to my wife, and she talked with my mom for a while. My grandmother and I were never that close--she always spent more time with my cousins in Utah when I was growing up, and after I went back east to college I'm not sure she knew what to make of me anymore. Then, the Navy sent me away all the time and I hadn't really seen her or talked to her for months. But she was always nice to my kids, and the tadpole liked her, and damn it she was my grandma, and I could remember when they'd visit and sleep in the living room of our tiny house. I'd get up for school, and grandpa would already be up, drinking coffee, reading the newspaper, while grandma slept soundly in a trundle bed. She'd snore, loud enough to hear through our closed bedroom door. When she was telling a funny story, she laughed loud and true. She hit your arm to get your attention--repeatdly. And she would say, "Kid! I tell you..." after she was done laughing at her joke or what one of us had done. When she was young, she was beautiful, country beautiful, like all those stupid farmer's daughter stories.