Archive for April 2012

Elizabethtown

April 4, 2012

When I was living in Louisville, Kirsten Dunst and Legolas (Orlando Bloom) were filming a movie called Elizabethtown on location in Elizabethtown, KY. A couple of years ago, I finally got [around] to watch[ing] the movie. It was a cute but very dark romantic comedy. The film centers around a suicidally depressed New Yorker, whose family hails from central Kentucky. He learns that a family member dies and he must go back to the Commonwealth for the funeral. Through the course of the film, Legolas meets and begins a relationship with a flight attendant, Kirsten Dunst, who challenges him to both grieve and find himself. The line from the movie that I always remember is “If it wasn’t this, it’d be something else,” meaning no matter what circumstances under which it happens, things are going to happen. In this case, it meant the family would gather together again. In all, it wasn’t a terribly great movie, but it wasn’t bad either.

On Monday, I was returning home from the 150th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Shiloh and visiting Fort Donelson. My journey took me on the freeway along the outskirts of Elizabethtown, KY, and I considered stopping. It was about 2 in the afternoon, and I knew a stop would give me a delay of about 3 hours. You see, my grandmother lives in E-town. She’s in an assisted living facility there. I decided to press on to try to get home early, and I’d plan a longer visit later this month. As I made my decision, that line popped into my head. If it wasn’t this, it’d be something else. I made it home relatively early and finished unpacking my truck before the basketball game started. (WAY TO GO CATS!)

I found out yesterday at lunch that my grandmother had fallen on Friday and was taken to the hospital. She wasn’t seriously hurt, but they took her as a precaution. She was recovering very well, but mentally, she was in an age 10 or more years ago. She was talking about seeing long-dead family over the past few days and the coming days. She would never have recognized me if I had stopped to see her. As much as I would have liked to spend time with her, I felt a little less bad about not stopping.

Late last night, we got a call from my mother’s aunt. My grandmother had just passed away. Now I’m trying to find out how much work can be put off for another week and preparing to travel back to Elizabethtown tomorrow or Friday. I don’t know the funeral details yet, but it will likely be Friday morning or Saturday. Once again, that line is going through my mind: If it wasn’t this, it’d be something else.

Stopping wouldn’t have made a difference that she’d know, and to be completely honest, stopping wouldn’t have made much of a difference to me. Seeing her one last time in her mental state, would not have left me with a better memory of her life and the time we got to spend together.

I used to spend a week visiting when I was younger. My parents would meet my grandparents at either King Fish in Louisville or Frisch’s in Winchester, KY, and leave one of us with them and take the other two back home. For three weeks, my grandparents had one or another of us. We used to take walks on the trail to Freeman Lake. She always got after me whenever I ran ahead and got out of view, and I’d have to come back to her. We golfed at Fort Knox. Whenever we’d go on base, we’d stop at the PX, and I’d get Pringles. We stopped by the Coca-Cola bottling plant in E-town. We never went on the tour. We would just go in to look at the koi pond and get free drinks from the fountain. Nearly every time I was there, it was Shark Week. I don’t know if my parent’s planned it that way or not, but I’d watch all the shows on Discovery Channel in the evenings. My grandmother never understood why I’d want to watch shows about shark attacks every night for several hours, but she’d sit down in her chair and watch them with me.

When I was in college, I would call my grandmother from time to time. When she asked who was calling, I’d always announce, “It’s your favorite grandson!” She actually seemed to enjoy hearing me declare that. Those are the memories that I will keep with me of my grandmother.

Now, I find myself getting ready to go back to Elizabethtown a few weeks before I had initially planned to see my grandmother again. This time, it will be for one last time. The troubles my grandmother has had for the last seven or eight years are finally over. I’ll again make the journey to where my grandfather was laid to rest twelve years ago. I know that they’re together again. If it hadn’t been this, it’d be something else. Family together again.

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