Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Twenty Years

A few days ago, I had mentioned that I had two rememberances this week. I already posted about one of them. Today I shall tell you about the second.

My Grandma. June 18 1917 - March 22 1986

Twenty years later, and still your loss is felt. Your smiling face and kind heart have not faded from my memory.

I grew up in a big family, with both parents working, parents who did so much for us. Never, did I doubt that my parents loved me. I always knew they were proud of me, whatever I did. I grew up in a happy, healthy family.

But there was always someone else, some one besides my parents. One who would look at me with unabashed pride, one who wore love for me so blatantly. This person instilled in me a sense of confidence, made me feel like I was such a special child. In the eyes of this person, I could do nothing wrong.

She was my Mothers best friend, and my fathers Mother. She was my Grandmother.

My Grandparents lived next door to us when I was little. After we moved to Canada (when I was nine), they lived in our basement suite. The wonderful thing about having Grandma so close is that she was always available, always on hand for little extra attention. Always had time for a chat. Although I may not have had much to say of interest, she always wanted to know. It may have been why I liked dolls with brown hair vs. blonde. She’d get me to sing my favorite pop song. She would frame my drawings.

Grandma was always impeccably dressed and quaffed. She was tall and slim and had classic movie star beauty. Her nails were always done and jewelry was always worn. As a little girl, she always involved me in her primping. She would get me to run her bath for her and put whatever salts I wanted in it. I got to blow up her inflatable bath pillow. I loved to wash her hair and pour jugs of water over her head. I’d lather up the sponge and scrub her back for her. Sometimes Granddad would fetch her a cup of tea to enjoy in the tub. Boy was she pampered ! But it was something I loved to do. I never felt like a hand servant. It made me feel grown up, to be able to help her with this.

Sometime when Grandad worked the night shift, I would sleep over. I would be allowed to stay up to watch a movie with Grandma. The old black and whites. We would eat in the living room, and drink tea from proper cups and saucers. I would get to sleep in Grandmas bed with her. We would play eye spy in the near-dark.

I loved to brush her hair. When I was a teenager, we got our first electric curling iron. Every time she washed her hair it was my job to go down and curl Grandmas hair. I seem to remember we would often watch Six Million Dollar Man or Bionic Woman during these sessions. This is when I realized that my Grandma still had a girl living within. She would say “Oh! Isn’t that Steve Austin handsome? And he is so brave”.

When I was sixteen, I got my first job, working with my Grandma .It was my privilege to spend every weekend with her as the kitchen staff at a private nursing home. This was the first time I really saw my Grandma in action outside the home. She treated those residents with such care and dignity. This is when I realized how she impacted many people with the same feelings that she stirred in me. The residents and staff alike all fell in love with her. They all thought she was wonderful.

She was.

In 1985 she was there for my wedding day. I am so grateful she got to be there for that. I think she enjoyed the wedding preparations and planning as much as anyone. Though my Mum did most of the work, Grandma was the cheering section. At twenty years old, I walked down the aisle a new bride. Seeing her and with the rest of my family, dabbing tears from her eyes, little did I realize that in less than seven months from that day, she would be taken from us.

In 1986, just a few weeks short of her 69th birthday, she fell ill with cancer. I would visit her everyday that I could. It was painful to watch her waste away, sometimes in excruciating pain. Sometimes, too drugged up to make sense. But between these down days, she would have better days. One of the less painful memories of that difficult time, was when she would insist on having me wash her hair. As poorly as she was feeling, she still had that old pride. Just a quick shampoo over the sink, would exhaust her. But after I blow-dried it, she’d say how much better it made her feel. She also enjoyed me blowing the warm dryer air down her nightie to warm her up! Looking back…I’m not sure if she had me do her hair to actually make ME feel better.

Its twenty years since we lost her. Sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday. Other times it feels like its been forever. There’s an old standby that you often hear repeated when somebody looses a loved one. “She will still be alive in your heart and memories”. It really is true. Hardly a single family gathering goes by, where Grandmas name isn’t mentioned. The love and feelings that she always stirred inside me, and the rest of my family, are still just as strong as they ever were.

I am so blessed to have been her grandaughter.


carol said...

What a wonderfully down to earth, loving, caring woman our grandma was. It took many years to pass before we could even mention her name and not shead a tear. We should go to a Canucks game in her honor, as she loved them so with her youthful attitude. We won't ever forget such a lovely lady.

Bobbie said...

What a beautiful tribute to your grandmother. She sounds like she was a beautiful person. I'm glad you have such fond memories of her.

Take care.

Dick said...

Why don't you write a biography about her? I'd suggest you do it while your parent who is her child is still living, perhaps with he/she as a co-writer. There is a lot of great family info that is lost because no one took the time to write these things down. You have a knack for writing and I think would do a good job with it.

ellen said...

Beautiful memories of a beautiful woman.

David said...

Thank you for sharing that. Grandmothers are so special and I loved mine as well. Both of my grandmothers passed away when I was overseas - one while I was in Turkey and the other when I was in Okinawa. I was not allowed to return for either funeral. That hurt.

Monica said...

I hope you are in charge of writing the family history down because I love how you write!

John said...

Very nice Susan. She was certainly a wonderful woman. I miss my dad's parents so much, wonderful people. Unfortunatly, we have to deal with death as part of life. I told my kids this again recently. And life goes on.

LZ Blogger said...

I still feel this way about my grandmother. I hope my grandkids will feel that way about me after I am gone (Well... AND while I'm here too!) ~ jb///

bornfool said...

That was such a beautiful tribute. I almost feel like I know her, too. I've been wanting to write such a piece for my grandmother. She died right before I got married and before any of her grandchildren were born. She was only 55. Your grandmother sounds a lot like mine.

Sally said...

My grandmother, my very best friend, passed away 27 years ago. I think about her every day I live.

Your tribute to yours is not only beautiful, but from the heart. You really do have a way with words, and I applaud you.

Simply Coll said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Even though 20 years have passed.. I understand how you still miss her.