Grandpa &Grandma 2002
It has been seven years since my Grandma passed away. I almost can't believe it. And when she left us, she was gone just like that.
Her whole life, she had been the sweetest, kindest lady you could ever know. Always so loving, so giving, always wanted to take care of you. Of course, she was my Grandma, so I got the best of it. I was the first grandchild, the only grandchild for 10 years, and the only GIRL grandchild for 16 years. My mother had me at 21 and divorced when I was 2, and had to work. My grandparents took care of me and I often spent the night at their house. Sometimes, I would stay for several days. It just made it easier for my mother to not have to drop me off and pick me up each morning, plus I know my Grandma wanted to keep me there every day!
She always made me special breakfasts: waffles, pancakes, eggs with bacon and toast, or these yummy things she called "banana dumplings." They were basically delicious fried dough dumplings with bananas in them. They were fantastic.
I also remember how clean she was. Not only was I always clean, but she kept a very tidy house. While there were some years that I can remember as a young child that she worked in the cannery, I also remember other times that she stayed at home. I learned to help her at a young age to do dusting, fold laundry, etc.
She never had an unkind word to say to or about anyone. She never spoke sharply or raised her voice. She never spanked me or swatted me (although I'm sure I needed it sometimes) and was always looking out for me and protected me.
Once I started school, I went to the school in her neighborhood. I had really long hair in those days, and bangs cut straight across in the front. She always did my hair really nicely for school, either parted with barrettes, in a braid, pony tail or bun. I always had nice, clean clothes and if it was cold she made sure I was bundled up. I walked to school with my friend across the street and her older sister. My Grandma did not drive, she was too nervous...although she did hold a license and drove me to school once when it rained. For years I reminded her of "the time you drove me to school." She always asked me what I wanted in my lunch, I could pick out my sandwich and get it exactly the way I liked it.
My mother remarried when I was in 3rd grade, and I changed schools to the neighborhood school where I lived with my parents. I didn't see my Grandma every day, and sometimes not even on the weekend. I missed her, and I know my absence was hard on her too. There were times through out the years when my grandparents would drop me off at school or pick me up, or I would spend the night with them. We always remained close.
She was incredibly thoughtful and always gave me little gifts, whether it was a lipstick or nice jewelry of hers, or something new she picked out for me. She once gave me a lapel pin, a gold angel that I carry in my make up bag. I put it there because if I ever go out of town, my make up comes with me. And its like my guardian angel.
When I was in my 20's, I wanted to be independent and get away from my parents who were driving me crazy. I moved several hours away, and would come home only to visit on holidays for the most part. I would still talk to my Grandma on the phone every couple of weeks. Her health was failing, and after 6 years of being away, I moved back. She was so thin and frail...was becoming forgetful and clumsy. It broke my heart to see her this way. But she managed to continue on for another 4 years and after a while I got used to her being that way.
My Grandparents and sister on family trip to Morrow Bay, 2003
My family always got together for dinner at my grandparent's house every Sunday. We had all gathered as usual, had a lovely night and then all parted ways. The next day, my Grandpa called me on my cell phone and told me to come to the ER right away. Grandma had been up all night, she couldn't keep any of her food down. The ER doctor said there was an intestinal blockage and they needed to do an exploratory surgery.
Turns out my poor Grandma had cancer spread throughout her body. They removed all of it the best they could, but she was so weak they did not know how she would respond to the rigorous follow up treatment. All we knew is that we couldn't let her just go like that without a fight. They told us that if they just closed her up and kept her really comfortable she would be gone within days.
It turns out we didn't buy much more time with the surgery. We had her conscious in our lives for one more day, got to talk to her and hold her hand. But then she succumbed to pneumonia after another day and that was it. We would never get to hear her sweet voice or be able to look her in the eyes again. She was on life support but she wasn't coming back, and there was no sense in drawing it out. The night they removed her from life support, my whole family was there, holding her hand, stroking her hair, talking to her, hugging each other. When she finally went, we all swear we saw an angel rise up out of her body and float away. The angel she was in life, she was also in death. That was seven years ago today, and I am wearing my pin to honor her, and thank her for being such an inspiration to me.
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