Posts Tagged ‘grandma’

A Goodbye For Grandma

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

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?

Warning: Never Invite Me to A Cookie Exhange. Ever.

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

I don’t bake and I don’t bowl.  The reason:  I suck at both.  Seriously, I do.   My grandma, on the other hand is an excellent baker and bowler. 

 “All you have to do is swing your arm in a straight line and let go of the ball,” she would say after dragging me bowling as a kid.  “It’s so easy.”  To prove it, she tippy, tippy, tippy toed down the ally and performed a demonstration which usually ended in a strike.  “Now, you try,” she sing songed.  (I’m sure I rolled my eyes at her, because that’s what I do.  Just to let you know, I’m quite an accomplished eye-roller.  I consider it one of my greatest God given gifts.)

Several gutter balls and a score of 49 later, my grandma was so annoyed.  “Maybe you need a lighter ball,” she suggested.  “Maybe the holes are the wrong size for your fingers,” she said.  “Maybe you’re swinging your arm across your body instead of straight,” she offered. 

After years of suggestions, she gave up trying to make me a better bowler.  And it took about the same number of years before she gave up trying to make me a better baker, too.

“Any one can bake,” my grandma would say.  “All you have to do is follow the directions.”

Growing up, I watched my grandma bake a bunch.  You name it and she baked it:  pies, cookies, lemon bars, and cakes.  She made something sweet from scratch every week and every week I was there to ‘help.’  You would think after apprenticing under her for all those years I’d be an excellent baker.  I’m not.

I don’t get baking.  Why do you have to mix dry ingredients separate from wet ingredients?  Why do you have to sift flour instead of sugar?  Why do cookies keep baking after you take them out of the oven?  I don’t get it.

Unfortunately, it’s my friends who will suffer from my serious lack of baking skills this holiday season.  I’ve been invited to not 1 but 2 cookie exchanges this year.  I baked 3 dozen snickerdoodles tonight for my first exchange tomorrow and I’m being kind when I say the cookies suck.

IMG_1903

“They’re not bad,” David said after choking one down.  “They just don’t taste like anything.”

I followed the directions.  I didn’t burn them.  They’re even light and fluffy.  As David kindly put it, they just don’t taste like anything.  My grandma would tell me I just to practice, but I’ve practiced for at least 20 years.  How much practice does it take?

I think for my second cookie exchange in a couple weeks, I’ll do my friends a favor and buy from a bakery.  I think at this point, even my grandma would agree.

Wake Up! Wake Up! Wake Up!

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

I don’t dream much.  At least, I don’t remember if I do but sometimes, I do remember and wish I didn’t. 

When I was a girl, I had a dream my grandmother died.  I’m not sure how old I was, but I do know it was soon after my parents gathered me and my brothers for a family meeting.  I sat in my dad’s lap on the avocado green carpet and my brothers squirmed on the tattered, brown sofa next to my mom and they told us;  They told us they were getting a divorce.  I was 8 years old.

I woke up sobbing from that dream.  I just knew my grandma, the woman I loved so much, was gone.  With tears still streaming, I tiptoed out of my room, down the hall, and reached for the rotary phone. 

“Yell – Low?” I was never so relieved to hear my grandma’s goofy greeting.

“Grandma?” I whispered still trying to stifle my sobs.

“Tasha, are you crying?”  She said alarmed.  “What’s wrong?”

“I had a dream you died.” I said sobbing uncontrollably again. “I just want to make sure you’re all right.”  

“I’m all right.”  She softly assured me.  “I plan to live a long, long, long time.  I’m going to live so long,” she continued, “that I even plan on meeting your children.”

“You do?” I sniffed.

“I do.” She confirmed.

“Okay, grandma.”  I was convinced.  “I love you.”

My mom has no idea I dialed her mother that night, or maybe she does.  I don’t know.  What I do know:  I’ve made several versions of the same call to my grandma throughout my life.  Her passing is a reoccurring dream for me – a dream I can’t wake up from any more.

My grandmother is dying.  It’s not a dream.  It’s a reality. 

My mom called today and told me to come home.  I know my grandma is sick, but I hoped she would make it until Christmas since that’s when my husband, toddlers and I planned on taking the 3 hour plane ride home to see her.  My mom said after this weekend, she thinks I should bring my family now.

I’ve got to make it home for her to meet Latham.  She told me when I was a little girl she would meet my children and she hasn’t met him yet.  

I just keep thinking I’m going to wake up any minute from this bad dream.  I do every time and every time, she tells me she’s all right. 

Wake up!  Wake up!  Wake up!

“Have you Ever Liked the Way you Looked in a Swimsuit?”

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

“Have you ever liked the way you looked in a swimsuit?” 

It’s an honest question only a good friend can ask – a friend like Jill.  She’s the kind of girl who tells it like it is and doesn’t sugar coat it.  Jill has three little ones under four years old and honestly just doesn’t have the time or energy to hear me go on and on and on about how I can not lose the last ten pounds of baby weight.  I mean when Jill’s two year old is smashing crackers into the hair of her one year old while her four year old is clinging to her leg and begging to play video games, I totally get why she doesn’t want to listen to me whine. 

The grumbling began though when I told Jill my husband and I are taking a trip to Hawaii.  It’s been four years and two kids since we’ve taken a real vacation together – a vacation where you leave the babies with Grandma and cry all the way to the airport.  (Don’t even get me started on that topic.  The mommy guilt I feel about leaving them is gut-retching.)  “It doesn’t matter what I do” I told Jill, “I could eat doughnuts and lay on the couch every day and not gain weight or I could eat veggies and work out every day and not lose it either.”  “It’s so frustrating!”  “All I want to do” I complained, ” is look good in a swimsuit!”

“Have you ever liked the way you looked in a swimsuit?”  Jill said while peeling her oldest son off of her.

For a split second, I was stunned.  The question stung a little bit but in a good way.  You know how you feel the day after a really good work out?   Your muscles are so sore that it even hurts when you squat to put your fanny on the pot to pee?  Yup, the question stung like that. 

After I recovered from the initial shock, I thought about the answer.  “No,”  I replied.  “I’ve never really liked the way I’ve looked in a swimsuit.”  Not even, I thought to myself, when I was sixteen and perfect. 

“There you go,” Jill said.  “”No one likes the way they look in a swimsuit.”  She continued, “You look great.  You work out.  You eat well.  Your clothes fit.  You’re just obsessed about a number on the scale.  Stop worrying about it and have a fun on vacation with your husband.”

Jill’s right.  I guess it’s nice having the kind of friend who slaps some sense into you from time to time – even if it stings.