My Grammy was spunky and loved to laugh. She loved young people and often complained about all the old people around her being “BORING!!!” (I wish you could hear the high pitched ringing way she used to say this, never once acknowledging that she herself was one of those old people). When our family would go to the beach, she used to body surf with the older grandkids and play in the sand and water with us younger ones. She even used to play Atari with my brother and sister which made her pretty darn cool.
My Grammy was a huge part of my life. We shared a birthday–something I didn’t really appreciate as a kid but cherished as an adult.
Grammy was the one who taught me how to sew and together we made an ugly blue jumper I wore with pride on my eighth birthday. She was the one who gave me back my “blue blanky” when my parents took it away to get me to stop sucking my thumb. She was the one who made me soup and cottage cheese every single day even in the summer because that’s what I loved to eat for lunch. And she was the one who played Sorry! with me in the afternoons and didn’t let me win just because I was a kid.
I know that she had a life beyond being my grandma. She was born on an orange farm and lost her mother when she was young. She was a writer and went to junior college. She had adventures and worries and troubles. But to me she was just Grammy. She was the one who took care of me and who loved me.
You really can’t talk about Grammy without talking about my Grampy. They were married in Georgia while he was in boot camp getting ready to head off to World War II. It’s the stuff family legends are made of–her train trip out with her soon to be mother-in-law, the few days they had before he headed off to war, never knowing if they would see each other again. Luckily my grandpa survived being shot and came home so that they could have my mom and two aunts who went on to have all of us. They were a so incredibly in love and so much a part of one another.
My grandparents babysat me every single weekday while my parents worked for the first 10 years of my life. They took me on outings and chaperoned school fieldtrips. We did crafts and grew tomatoes together. One summer my grandpa even helped me build a giant tent house in their backyard with dropcloths and my grandma would bring my lunch out to it. I thought it was the coolest thing ever.
My grandparents taught us all how to live with integrity and joy. Grampy passed away 19 years ago and yet he is still very much a part of our family’s life. As my grandma was dying she talked about dancing with my grandpa–I have no doubt that they are dancing now together again.
The woman my daughters have come to know as Great Grammy isn’t quite the woman I have described. But I am glad they knew and loved her. Great Grammy didn’t go places and build things the way my Grammy did. But she listened to the girls, watched their “shows” they did for her, took them to lunch at her nursing home, and showed them her cat. She even helped make them hats out of the cloth napkins the last time we visited her.
I can’t wait until my children are older and I can tell them these stories and they can appreciate who she was to me as much as they appreciate who she was to them. And as I look back through pictures of her with the girls I am touched by the big smile and look of utter joy I see on Grammy’s face in every single picture. She loved her family.
Towards the end of her life, Grammy used to love to say, “It’s all because of me. Well, and Thurman. If it wasn’t for us none of you would be here. It’s all because of the two of us that you are all alive. I just love thinking about how we made all of this.”
I loved my Grammy very much! I am so grateful of all that she did for me and all the happy times we shared. Until we meet again Grammy, good bye!