(I started writing this post a month ago, the last week of November. I still wanted to post it though, b/c my Grandma deserves to be remembered here on my blog. – AO)
Yeah, still crying. Or not. It’s been a tough two weeks. My grandma passed away about 10 days ago. We’ve had the visitation and the funeral already. Thank you cards are on their way out, and the potato salad leftovers are almost gone. Now begins the real work – life without Grandma.
It should be easy. Grandma’s been in care facilities for the last ten years or so. She’s sort of been…away from home, from me, and it seemed like she was always there…down the road. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t feel real yet that she’s gone. Even this Thursday, when our family gathers to eat and laugh, it won’t seem real. She hasn’t been able to travel for our holiday celebrations for a year or so, so her presence won’t be missed like it might have been. Let me start over though. And tell you about my grandma. Her life and story are worth sharing because she’s had such an influence on my life, and it’s my blog, so there!
Grandma was born in rural Iowa in her parents’ home. The family doctor who delivered her put her on the scale. When the needle went as far as it could go, at 13 pounds, he said, “That’s enough. No baby should have to weigh more than that.” Classic! She spent the next 5-7 years playing outside with her older brothers and younger sister when she came long. One day, at her country school, Grandma was on the end of a Crack-the-Whip line. Well, they whipped, and she cracked. She broke a collarbone, poor thing! Shortly after that year, her family moved to the town where she’d get married, have children, and spend her retirement years with her true love.
I forget the exact timeline, but Grandma once told me that she was a synchronized swimmer. One of these days I’m gonna do some research into that to see if I can find a photo…I think this must have been while she still lived at home…?
Again, I’m estimating here, but probably in 1945 she met my Grandpa at a historic location in our town. They loved dancing together and spending time with their friends. It didn’t take them long to decide that they wanted to spend their lives together. They married in July 1946 and started their family pretty soon after that. My uncle was born the next year, and five years later my Mom came along. My aunt came three years later and the little brother finished out the family nine years after that. So my grandpa drove a bakery bread truck for the local bakery for 40 years. For the kids’ birthdays, they’d get a yellow cake with chocolate frosting from the bakery. At some point, they quit making those cakes, so Grandma continued the tradition on her own. Mom remembers a seven layer yellow cake with chocolate frosting for several years’ birthdays. Sounds amazing! My uncle remembers that cookies were *always* in the freezer or on the kitchen counter.
All signs and stories point to Grandma loving her life as a mother. But Mom says that once in awhile Grandma would get an “itch” to work outside the home. She and her sister took classes at the local beauty school. They learned to do hair and other things. Grandma never took the test, but Mom’s younger brother definitely took the brunt of Grandma’s practicing haircuts. After my uncle graduated high school, my grandparents started traveling a bit. They went to Hawaii with Grandpa’s sisters and their spouses. They spent some time on a tour of European countries and took lots of photos…that we found last week. Us kids started coming along starting in the late 1970s and Grandma loved being a grandma!
One of my favorite memories of my time with Grandma was when she’d pick me up from Friday morning kindergarten and take me to lunch at Arby’s. We got vanilla shakes. We’d cruise in her red Honda and listen to Kenny Rogers. I’ll remember so many cute things about her. She always had tissues, Tic Tacs, and a pick in her purse. I’ll never forget how she put her lipstick on. Or how she put her socks on. That she always looked nice. Always had her hair and makeup done. How she smelled. How tasty her cookies were. How delicious her potato salad was, and how almost no one can duplicate it. She was exactly the kind of grandma everyone deserves. And she influenced my mom to be the best kind of mom for me. I said at her service that if nothing else, teaching my mom how to be an amazing mom is enough for me to love her forever. I’m so very thankful for all the vacations, day trips, and sitting around watching tv moments I had with my grandma.