At this point in her dying process, she already seemed half-gone. She recited pieces of the alphabet like a mantra. She told me happily her family was waiting for her in the trees. But then she recited this song, "M-O-T-H-E-R," from memory, over and over again.
Since I'd never heard the song before, and since my grandmother's rendition was more spoken word than song, I tried to find a copy of the sheet music so that she could hear me sing it to her before she died. But my search was fruitless -- the sheet music was out of print and there was no way to purchase, borrow or otherwise find a copy.
Although I wasn't able to find the music written down, she repeated it to me nearly each time I visited. It left such an impression on me that I wrote about it after she passed away. Since then, the words wormed their way into my ear from time to time, but like all memories, began to fade.
Cut to a few weekends ago. I was on vacation with my husband and my in-laws, exploring central California. Our trip was mainly wine-focused, but on one of our idle mornings we decided to wander around town and see what was open.
An antique shop caught my eye -- my husband is an avid cyclist and I've been looking for fun stuff to put on our walls. I thought I might be able to find an old bike advertisement or something in there, so I wandered around a bit. I'd looked through 90% of the store, curiosity nearly satisfied, when, leafing through a basket of loose sheet music, I found it.
I couldn't even hold it together for this one shot.
An involuntary wave of emotion hit me then, just as it does now even trying to write about it. The number of things that had to happen for me to find this is mind-blowing, and I can't help but entertain the idea that it's a message from her.
And just in case it is: I love you too, grandma.