On January 13th, 1992, my step-grandmother was killed by a drunk driver. She was driving with her mother on a curvy road at night, and a young man who had too much to drink crashed into their car head-on. She was Reginald's mom; and even though I hated Reginald, I really liked his mom. In fact I secretly, meanly wished that it had been Reginald killed in that car accident and not her.
She never treated me like a step-grandchild; she was happy to have a grand-daughter and I was the only grand-kid around at the time. She heaped me with presents and spoiled me terribly.
That year, the weekend before she died, she came over to our house; she gave me my Christmas presents and my birthday presents; she gave me gifts and candy for Valentine's day and for Easter as well. When I asked why I was getting all my presents in advance she told me that she didn't know where she would be when those days came.
When my family got the news of her death, Reginald looked as though he'd been kicked in the stomach. He doubled over in pain and grasped at his chest. He had a horrible grimace on his face. I think that was the only time I saw him show real emotion, and it was certainly the only time I felt anything like sympathy for him.
Years later, I went to work for a local towing company; I worked night shift dispatching, and one evening the guys were sitting around my dispatch office during a slow period and recounting their "worsts"; the worst accident they were ever called out on for the police rotation. And one of the guys started talking about an auto accident where two ladies, mother and daughter, were driving on a windy road and were killed by a drunk driver. He was talking about my grandmother, though he didn't know, and I learned the horrible details of death-by-car-accident that people don't share with little girls.
It was awful, the way she died, and being killed in a car accident made it to my list of the top five ways not to die.
As with others who have made a difference in my life who are no longer with me, the things I remember about her and the things I continue to learn about myself as I get older evolve. I used to be very angry at the young man who killed her; I haven't thought about him or her for a very long time, but I was reading yesterday about forgiveness. The Buddha said that nothing cannot be forgiven, that forgiveness -unlike hatred or anger or bitterness or revenge- doesn't hurt us at all but is a step on the path to enlightenment and peace.
I don't remember that young man's name any longer, and I'd certainly not recognize him if I saw him; but if I were to meet him by chance, I'd tell him that I forgive him. Unless he was still driving around drunk, then I'd kick him in the nuts for killing my grandma.