My grandmother was a devout Evangelical Lutheran, as Christian as a grandmother could be. So it always befuddled me when she said she was going to kill me.
‘I’m going to kill you!’ is one of those statements that I couldn’t imagine saying now to anyone, but when I was a kid, it was used freely and often. If any of us pissed off Grandma, even our parents, we knew when she said someone was getting killed, she was MAD. And she always said it with such desperation in her voice, like we drove her to it.
Later in her life, actually it was in February of 1994, I went to stay with her for a few months. Everyone hid out at Grandma’s house at one time or another, so I decided to take my turn before there was no house left to stay in and Grandma was no longer around.
One day she and I were watching the soaps on TV. It was winter and there was a good two feet of snow outside. The dog wanted in the back door, so I got up and let it in, then it wanted out, then it wanted in again. Grandma got frustrated with it and said ‘If you don’t make up your mind, I’m going to kill you!’
I said ‘Grandma, don’t talk to the dog that way. Your words have power and who knows, this may be the dog’s last 24 hours on the planet.’
She just made a face at me, then put the dog out the back door.
We weren’t allowed to stay at Grandma’s house for any length of time unless we promised to go to church with her on Sunday. The next morning as we were getting ready to go to church, Grandma made note that Pepper hadn’t come into the house the night before. She seemed a bit worried. As we backed out of the driveway, there was a little gray mound in the snow. The dog had gotten hit by a car and was frozen solid. Grandma was speechless as the tears welled up in her eyes.
After she wrapped the dog in one of her homemade quilts, to keep him while we were at church, we drove off in silence. As we reached the top of the hill I told her I was sorry for saying what I did the afternoon before. She said ‘You know, that was the last thing I said to your father too, before he died.’
People in this story besides me: Florence Keck Kradel