I am currently in the process of a long goodbye. I’m losing my grandmother. The mother of my mother. The last tie I truly have. You see, there is an order. Parents should never lose a child. I have always understood this looking at it as a parent myself, but I never took the time to really think about the other end of things. I am losing my grandmother. A wonderful woman. A motherly figure in my life. It is at times like this I really miss my mom. I should have here now. We should be leaning on each other.
I laid next to my grandmother today and I swear I could smell my mother. The curve of her chin bone could almost have been hers too. They are a piece of one another. A piece of me. I am going to miss her. I am going to miss the small piece of my mother that was also still her lingering with my grandmother. There are so many things I will miss.
I learned so much from this wise grandmother of mine. She loves so deeply. She is a truly, genuinely, good person.
She had such a strong love. We were her dolly’s. We were her precious darlings, so loved. We were the best at violin, the best at sports, the best at plays…the best. She was our biggest fan. She came to every sporting event I ever had. She and grandpa would sit up close and cheer ever so softly. Yet the softness of her voice, would reach me and I knew she was there. She came to every play. Whether it be in school, a talent show, or just in her basement with the cousins she was front row. She was a whole audience all to herself.
She was the very best storyteller. She would read us stories when we were younger and she had a thousand voices. She could also tell a story about grandpa that would light up the very room. The time they first met when he gathered her hat. The time on the bus where he pretended to be asleep on her shoulder and she all but held her breath so she wouldn’t move and make him stir from his pretend sleep. The time he made her wait for a wedding ring because she hadn’t been sure, but then she was and he was not taking her back. But then he did. About the times he held her hand and sang, “I love you, a bushel and a peck.”
Grandma was a hard worker too. Everything in her house ran like a well oiled machine. It’s possible that this was because everything was used a minimum of 10 times. This goes for plastic bags and foil too. Things knew what to do because they were well-worn in. Like her coat and her boots and every single turtleneck. She didn’t waste. Not a thing. She ate everything on her plate and only served what she could finish. She was in charge of feeding the whole cattle crew in the desert. She pulled off the meals while watching the little ones and keeping the camp clean. That is no easy chore.
My sidekick would use this term, but it fits best for grandma. She’s the cheese on the pizza that keeps all the toppings in place. There is something about grandma that she can make everyone come together and stick together even when this is the last thing they want to do. There has been a family reunion every year. Every single year. For grandma. She knows whats going on with everyone too and can remember every reason for every one that couldn’t make it. She not only knows and remembers all of her great-grandkid’s name, but she knows what they like, their favorite color, and things to say to make them smile.
My “sisters” and I sat today and talked about grandma. We talked about how sleepovers were the very best. She would let us have two vitamin c’s before bed. Just two because any more than that would overdose us. Then she would take us downstairs and let us jump from bed to bed about four times. She would have us lay down on her feather pillows, tuck the blankets around us tight then lift just a corner so she could put the hair dryer in there to warm us up. She would tell us just to lay still like that and we would stay warm. Then she would read us only 1 story, then come back for at least one more before we finally went to sleep. Then we would wake to the best pancakes ever. She also makes the best wheat bread and sugar cookies.
We also decided that grandma is going to have a few black marks against her in Heaven. She is a fibber. This grandma of mine can tell you a story so tall you would think it is a tree and not even change her face. Such as: “I feel great.” “It was a wonderful, just wonderful day.” “You are the very best at that.” “You are the most beautiful.”
Although…now that I look at it. Maybe she wasn’t really fibbing all these years. Maybe she really believed those things because she just has an incredible perspective and outlook on life. I hope to be like her someday.
We spent hours spitting seeds from frozen cherries and peeling rhubarb so we could put salt on it and eat it. Grandma could spit the farthest every time. She taught us how to roll the legs of our pants up to wade in the river and showed us that you can be down to earth and classy at the same time. A few months ago I went to her house and she was just feeling frumpy. I gave her a quick trim and set to work for a quick manicure. I never knew that my grandma was very particular about her nails, but I learned pretty quick that day as she made sure I did them just right. I realized then, more than any other time that she was more like my mother than I think she ever knew.
She loved looking out her windows and playing with the kids. The noise didn’t bother her at all and if she could, she would be up with them every step of the way. Like playing swords and pirates with my wee child because that was important to my girl so it was important to my grandma.
She made the best special blankets. She always had juice and ice cream for the kids. Ice cream bars or vanilla ice cream with chocolate powder. She cherished every drawing, colored page and picture because they were treasures and just so precious.
I think that is the greatest lesson I learned from my grandma. I matter. Everyone matters. She sees the best in everyone. She blocks out the bad and only sees the good because that is what matters. Everything else…well…”it’s just whatever, it doesn’t matter anyway.”