Yo. another edition of Flashback Friday, brought to you by Cablegirl over at 42. She has a list of participants, and they are all great. Read 'em, join us.
I have this grandma; she turned 81 years old in April, and has to be one of the single most important and loved people in my life. Don't get me wrong: she is getting up there in years, can't hear worth beans but refuses to acknowledge that she can't hear, so gets annoyed when we talk loudly to her. She tells the same story over and over, and every time we just have to grit our teeth and smile and nod. She is, in a word, old, with all of the accompanying annoyances and frustrations that come with dealing with the downslide of a loved one. Yet: I love her. This woman that I see now is still grandma, and I love most everything about her, but these are the things that hold her close in my heart.
1. For every special occasion, from Easters to Baptisms to Job's Daughter events to weddings, Grandma made us each a dress. There are four of us girls, so that is a shitload of sewing, but Grandma did it gladly and sung while she was doing so. One year for Easter, she made us all matching dresses, with the same flower pattern in different colors, and also different styles according to age. Mine was purple, and I loved it so much; I think I was maybe 5 or so, but I can still remember the dress in great detail, and more importantly, I remember how wearing it made me feel-pretty, for perhaps the first time in my life. She also made my two older sister's wedding dresses, and our bridesmaid dresses; they rivaled anything I can remember seeing in a store.
2. She always had enough room on her lap for as many of us who wanted to sit there. She had five children, and all five of them had kids the same year, so when were at Grandma's house, the five of us would vie for attention, and she always had enough. There are some photos of the five of us cousins at a family reunion, and all five of us are sprawled all over Grandma like puppies.
3. Her house was always a safe place to go. Things were, um, less than okay at our house, and when things got too bad, which was often, we would get sent to her house. For a few years we lived right next to her, just a field away, and we spent far more time with her than we did at home. When our house burned down when I was in Junior High, her house and her arms were the comfort we all needed. When my dog got shot by some asshole hillbilly no-teeth mother fucker, it was grandma who told me, and also grandma who got me a new puppy. When my mom and stepdad decided they needed to up and move when I was partway through 9th grade and my older sister was a SENIOR, it was her house we stayed at. Me, until the semester ended, my sister all through her senior year.
4. She has had to deal with her own prejudices, and has done it beautifully. She hated people of other races (though she wasn't vocal about it, it was still made known), but then one cousin married and black woman and had THE most delicious babies (7 of them, too!), so Grandma had to get right the hell over that one. She loved the cousin and loved his babies, and fell in love with Mama too; even after the divorce, Grandma has kept in touch with mama. So when another cousin married a lovely Japanese girl, grandma welcomed her with open arms. She is also a VERY Fundamental Christian, and was told her whole life that homosexuality was an abomination; until Cousin came out. And she is now his most vocal supporter, having him and his partner sit right up front with her at church whenever they come to visit. She is the first person I remember teaching me not by words, but by example, that anyone can overcome hatred and fear, because underneath it all, we are all just people.
5. When I got divorced the first time and went running back home with my tail between my legs, with an 8 month old in tow and another one quietly baking in the old oven, my own mother wouldn't take me in ("You made your bed...") but grandma did. She held me while I cried with the pain of being 21 years old and not knowing quite how it all happened. We lived with her for the next three years, and she helped me get back on my feet and helped me raise my kids. My mom eventually did come around, but I will always remember that Grandma asked no questions and made no judgements, and just loved me.
I don't see my grandma nearly as often as I would like to, or as often as I should. She lives a couple of hours away, and it sometimes seems like too much effort to get all of the kids gathered up and go see her. There is the expense, too, as we have to stay elsewhere because he home isn't large enough. I send cards and pictures, and I talk to her occasionally, but I also get impatient with her a lot of the times, and I hate that. However, in writing this post, because she has been on my mind, I remember that we just have this day...and I just asked for a day off at the end of the month so that I can have a three-day-weekend to go see her. It is great to be able to write this about her, but she also needs to hear from my mouth how much I love her, and how much she has helped me.
Grandma and a very few of her Great-Grandkids
Grandma and My Kids