I remember her singing that song around her house when we were younger. And then when we were older.
And it summed her up pretty perfectly, because, you see, my grandma is and was and always will be unforgettable.
I’ve been thinking a lot about her recently. The first weekend of this month was the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s. And like we do every year, my family raised money for the cause. We have participated for about 4 years now, I believe, but this year we weren’t actually able to do the walking part.
That doesn’t mean she wasn’t any less on our minds and in our hearts though. That’s where she stays, these days.
It’s been about six months now since she’s been gone. Six months since she went to be with my grandpa, who she’d been looking for since he left us a few years ago.
Trying to sum my grandma up into a group of words or one post or sum her up at all is almost impossible. She was just, “Grandma.”
I got almost 30 years with the lady, and I was so lucky to have that time. My first memories of her are from when we were younger, in her and Grandpa’s old house. She’d sit with us on the couch and read us stories – I specifically remember the one about the Gingerbread Man and as I think about it now, I can hear her voice reading those words we ended up knowing by heart at one point.
She was at every Christmas that I can remember, and every ballgame and concert and graduation she and Grandpa could attend. And as their only grandchildren that lived in town, we knew we were lucky to have that special time with them and those major events they were able to be there for with us are some of my most treasured memories. She loved us – as she loved all her family – and was so proud, no matter what it was we were doing.
Memories of her come in spurts and there are some that stick out more than others.
–She loved talking to babies and little kids (it’s where I get it from). Once, on the way out of dinner at a restaurant, there was a kid standing in the corner of the lobby in time-out. Grandma, being herself, walked over and leaned down to his height and started trying to talk to him. I remember laughing and saying “You aren’t supposed to talk to him! He’s in trouble!”
–She was a fan of trouble. She’d always ask people if they were behaving themselves. When they’d say yes or that they were trying to, she’d immediately come back with “Well that’s no fun, now is it?”
–She was feisty. Even when her memory started to fail her those years ago, and up until the end, she had a great sense of humor. One of my all-time favorite pics of us with her is this one, where we got her to make faces with us for the camera.
–She hugged Muhammad Ali in a CVS about 10 years ago. Walked right up to him and said “Ali!” and all 5 feet of her hugged that man like they were old buddies.
–She was a dancer. Whether it was with my grandpa or by herself, if there was music, she was dancing.
–Speaking of music – she’d have a song for every phrase. You’d say something and she’d launch into a line from some older song.
–She had a sweet tooth. You could always count on dessert at her house, and when she lived in the assisted living facilities, if she ate nothing else, she always ate the dessert – or the candy we brought her.
–She always grabbed your face when she kissed you on the cheek. And God forbid if your hair was in your face. She’d push it behind your ears for you so she could see you.
–A few years ago, before Grandpa passed away, I recorded them reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” on one of those recordable books from Hallmark. It’s my most prized possession, and my hope is to one day be able to share it with my children and tell them about their great-grandma and great-grandpa.
–She loved my grandpa. So much. He was her world. And when he left us a few years ago, she wasn’t the same. She was always looking for him, wondering where he was and why he hadn’t visited or when he was going to pick her up. Because he was everything to her. Everyone should aspire to a love like theirs was. I know I do. In fact, one of the things that gives me peace about her passing is that she’s with him. She was talking to him that last night.
I got to talk to her a little on that last night, too. She wasn’t awake, but she was still there. And I held her hand and teased her for not having lipstick on – something she was always so concerned about when she had company, even if it wast just us. When I asked where it was, she squeezed my hand.
When I told her i loved her and that my sisters loved her and we all loved her, she moved her head towards my voice and I got to kiss her goodbye and tell her goodbye.
She was 91 when she left. 91 years of love and feistiness and kids and grandkids and great and great-great grandkids. So many years filled with so many great memories – I didn’t even scratch the surface of the ones I’ve got stored when I wrote this post.
I miss her, every day. And I hold on tight to those memories of that unforgettable lady. She was a good one.