My 91 year old Grandma passed away recently, and I just wanted to share with you what I read at her memorial service last weekend. She was an amazing woman and I miss her every day.
A Goodbye For Grandma
One of my first memories of memories of my grandma was when I was about 8 years old. I was at her house spending the night because we had to get up early the next morning for a super special trip – our trip to Florida. She took my brother, Devon, to visit my Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Ray the previous summer but this year, she said, was my turn.
I waited all year for this trip. And Grandma had been filling my head for months with all the adventures the two of us would have together. She said we were going to do magical things I had never done before, like go to Disney World and meet Micky Mouse, go swimming at the beach where we would dig in the sand and find seashells, and she promised to take me to a place called Sea World, where someone named Shamoo would fly high in the air and do tricks. I didn’t know who Shamoo was, but I knew if my grandma said it was going to be cool – it was going to be cool.
“But before the adventure begins,” she whispered to me the day before we were to leave, “I have something for you.”
And with that, she revealed a small, red suitcase. It was exactly my size!
“Grandma,” I said while jumping up and down, “this is so awesome! I’m going to pack all my stuff in here and take it on our trip together! Thank you!”
You see, I was raised with a lot of love, but not a lot of money, so any present – even a suitcase – was exciting.
“The suitcase,” Grandma giggled, “is only part of your present. Unzip it and look inside.”
I did as I was told and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Inside the red suitcase that was exactly my size, were treasures – lots of them. I discovered a baby doll that wet when you fed her, and a blanket with little flowers that I could wrap her in when she got cold, but the best part – the clothes.
Grandma reached in a pulled out two pairs of shorts and two tops that matched – not to mention the cutest dress I’d ever seen.
“Look,” she said smiling, “can you read what the label says?”
“Made especially for you. From, Grandma,” I whispered.
My grandma had sewn those clothes just for me – just for our trip – together. And I felt special.
And she made me feel like that my whole life – special.
She would invite me over to spend the night at her house when I was a kid and she would let me eat Cheetos, drink 7up, and play UNO way past my bed time.
I went with her to K-Mart one time when she somehow found out about a secret shipment of Cabbage Patch dolls that were about to be delivered, and I literally witnessed my grandma body slam another woman so she could buy me one. It was the 80s people – a Cabbage Patch doll was better than gold in those days.
She would sew me and my mom matching dresses. And when I was a little girl, there was no one in the world I wanted to dress like more than my mom. And my grandma made it happen.
And for family holiday dinners, she would make a banana desert topped with pudding and peanuts. And every time, she would save some of the pudding in a dish just for me because she knew I loved it.
Since both my parents worked full time, I looked for her every day to pick me and my younger brother up from school, and it never failed – her car was always the first one in the parking lot.
For Halloween, she aways gave me and my brothers lots of candy, and not the small sized candy most kids get when they trick or treat – the regular sized candy adults eat. And we loved her for that.
When I was in college, she would invite me over once a week for a home cooked meal and we would sit at the kitchen table and talk for hours about the times when she was a little girl on the farm with her 11 brothers and sisters. She said her sister, Lucille, was the brains behind all the wild schemes the pair pulled on their parents. But even to this day, I think my grandma was more a part of that dynamic duo than she ever admitted.
And later, when I moved away and started my own career and my own family – I loved that Grandma and I kept our relationship strong with handwritten letters. I have years of correspondence with my grandma that I treasure. And every letter ends with, “Keep sweet and I love you.”
And I just want you all to know – I plan on keeping sweet. And I love her too, so much.
My grandma and her family in 1969. My grandma is in the green dress and my mom is the teenager on the left in red. Don’t you love her cat eye glasses?