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.
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.