Gram is still with us. She is in hospice. But these are some thoughts about her that I want to share.
Gram, I’ve always loved you.
I remember adventures at your house from a young age. Traveling from Arkansas to Chicago by plane made you seem fancy and exotic. Looking back now, you were a simple lady working at a trucking company…but to me, you were my fancy Grandma that lived in Chicago. Everything about you was so unique. Your small walk-up apartment was full of memories – from the strange textured painting of a barn (what was that doing in a Chicago apartment?) to the tiny diorama of a forest that I would study for what seemed like hours. Then there was my favorite: the disco elephant. Yes, it’s a mirror covered elephant. It’s sitting in my house- and I’m lucky to have it. You told me that it came from Egypt and was supposed to face the door and bring good luck.
You were a funny grandma. I have no memories whatsoever of you ever cooking. All I remember is you peeling sweet potatoes and chopping onions and celery for Thanksgiving. I’m sure at some point in your life you cooked, but that was not what you passed on to me.
You passed on your social skills to me. You were a social butterfly (well, before your brain trauma changed you so years ago). Everyone loved you. I remember when you joined the church in Hot Springs and how active you became. I hardly ever saw you because you were lunching, going to movies, going to shows, and always with friends. You were a great listener, so I understood how easily you made friends.
Thank you for always being my confidant. You were always on my side. I never for a moment doubted that.
We spent so much time together after you moved to Hot Springs. Watching scary movies and eating popcorn. Going out for Chinese food dinners. Taking trips together. Those times when we lived in Branson that you would come stay with me while mom went home. Lots of fun times. I think I get my love of eating good food and traveling from you. You went on so many adventures with Grandpa. I heard of countless cruises, trips to Egpyt, China. You lived a great life.
I know these last few years have been tough. Your body has betrayed you, and your accident didn’t help either- bringing on dementia, confusion, and trouble walking. You’ve been in so much pain, but you always wanted to go and do- be where we were.
I regret that you’ll never get to hold your great grand baby. I know that for the 5 years I’ve been married, you’ve told me its ok to wait for kids. To explore and enjoy each other. However, I’m sad to think you’ll never know your great grand baby. I just knew you would teach them your out-of-tune song about ladybugs. “Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home…”
One of my favorite memories of you is the time I was most proud of you- when you were baptized. You had converted to Christianity from a lifetime of Judaism…and you were terrified of being baptised. You couldn’t swim! But we practiced in the pool (and after several near drownings) you were baptized. I was so proud of you that day. I’m proud of you now, too. You’ve fought so hard. You are so feisty and have such a spirit about you.
But I want you to know that we don’t want you to suffer anymore. I don’t want to let you go, but I have to let you fly, little Ladybug.
On Sunday everyone came to see you. You hardly opened your eyes, and you didn’t talk much, so I don’t know how much you knew about our visits. But we were all there telling you how much we love you. Holding your hand. And we will be there until God takes you away from here. I love you, Gram. I’m not ready for our journey to end. It breaks my heart to think of a Thanksgiving without you there to gnaw on the leftover turkey carcass. Or a Christmas without you complaining about waiting to open your gifts. You always hated that we went youngest to oldest, because that meant you went last. Or a New Years without you saying “I haven’t seen you all year!” on January 1. Or a birthday when you don’t pester me about what to get me. Or not being able to read your chicken scratch handwriting in your card. How did you get such bad penmanship? I love that you listed your education on Facebook as the School of Hard Knocks. I love that you loved to play games and were up for just about anything. One of my favorite memories of you was convincing you to play Chubby Bunny all by yourself one night just because we had marshmallows in the pantry.
But I guess that’s the beauty of all of this, it makes us appreciate those small memories even more. You were a wonderful Grandma. Thank you for pouring into my life and loving me completely. I hope you knew how much I love you.