Ode to a Toad

Yesterday was my grandma’s birthday. She passed away about two months ago after an extremely difficult year with many ups and downs. I actually forgot she died. How sad is that? I forgot I could no longer visit her when I go back to Minnesota, give her a big hug, and laugh with her.

She was beautiful. Strong. Caring. Accepting. Stubborn. Sometimes close-minded. But she was my grandma, and I loved her so. I grew up 10 minutes away from her and would see her at least once every two weeks. She always had a drawer full of gum (because she used to be an avid smoker). Juicy-fruit and Double-mint seemed to be her favorite. I still love Juicy Fruit gum to this day.

One of my favorite memories is going to their house on the lake, and looking for toads in the drains they had. We would find them and run inside to show grandma. She would give us an ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter’ container and tell us to leave them outside. For some reason those memories are so vivid. I remember looking into the drain at toads and showing them to grandma. I was so innocent and happy. Grandma probably thought the toads were gross, but she knew how much fun we were having.

The day of her wake was hard. I had cried before then, but that day was especially hard. While in Montana, I was able to push it to the back of my mind and ignore the fact that my grandma was no longer here. Everyone had done most of their crying before I arrived, but I had not…

We arrived three hours early to set the picture boards up, (none of which I had seen yet). As my family started to arrive we hugged, we cried, we laughed, and we grieved. Grandma loved to write, and she saved everything. I had heard many years ago about a poem grandma was writing about Amy, Madeline, and I looking for toads. I honestly didn’t think it would be in her book. But I flipped through the pages looking for it.

And there it was. Titled, ‘Ode to a Toad’. I read it, and it hit me. My grandma is gone. My beautiful, stubborn grandma is gone. But she remembered those moments too. The rest of the day I couldn’t stop crying. I would be fine one second, and the next, tears were streaming down my face.

The next day at the funeral, I told myself, “today you will not cry. Today you will be strong”, and I was. I didn’t cry, just a few tears. To the right of me was my cousin, her husband, and younger daughter Lainey. To the left of me was my sister and her boyfriend. I was alone.

But something amazing happened that I will NEVER forget. During my grandma’s eulogy, I felt as if I was going to break down with no one to comfort me. To try to stop thinking about it, I looked down to my right at the children’s book Lainey was reading. As she turned the page, I realized that on that next page, was a toad. A smiling, happy toad. A smiling, happy grandma, no longer in pain.

I had to stop myself from snickering out loud. But I knew that it was grandma. I knew she was telling me that it’s going to be okay and she is now my little angel toad. The funniest part, I’m not even surprised. It was such a Barb thing to do. I smiled after that for the rest of the funeral. I knew she was happy and watching over us all.

I love you and miss you grandma. Forever. Ribbet.


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