Last year, I published this the day after my Grandma’s memorial service. When I started this blog over I knew I wanted to report it on the anniversary of her passing. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and I thought it appropriate that I publish this again one year later.
(She was one hot looking lady in her youth…and awfully cute as she aged! Today was harder than I thought it would be in many ways; but I made it through. For those of you who where there in person and in thought, thank you for your support to me and my family. Many who were there requested a copy of my speech; while the original handwritten version is now with my mom, here it is typed out).
Hi, I’m Jennifer, one of her granddaughter. I like to think I’m the favorite, but I’m pretty sure all us grandkids think that. For the past two years I have been fortunate enough to spend every Tuesday night with my Grandma…and more!
Oh, I have so many memories of her throughout my life, much more than these last two years; however, the moments that I will always cherish the most are these last two years. I was blessed enough that the message was made clear to me that I needed to cherish every single one of those moments because, let’s face it, it wasn’t going to last forever. I knew that and took full advantage of it. So much so that on our Tuesday night meals, there were things that became clear to me she would like to either do for the first time ever in her 80 plus years or “just one more time” because it had been too long since her last experience.
On our many adventures, and throughout the years, I would get facebook messages, phone calls, emails, or even face-to-face messages of gratitude from various cousins, aunts, relatives, and even my mom. However, if anyone really knows me (and my Grandma did more than anyone else) you know that I never do anything I don’t want to do and I certainly didn’t do it for the gratitude. As a matter a fact, a part of me hated the gratitude because it implicated, to me, that I was doing it for a reason other than wanting to spend time with a fabulous lady.
I spent all these hours, all these days, going to all these place with her for one reason: We enjoyed each other’s company!
I enjoyed every single second and looked forward to the next time we would get to spend together. We laughed, teased, talked, and remembered the past.
I’ll never forget the last Tuesday night I spent with her. It was October 5th. I had been at my new job for just about a month at that point and our regular weekly dinners had come to a sad end for a bit. I had been up in the area and made sure to stop by her place for dinner. We seemed to talk more than usual and share more than usual. She was so excited about my new job and expressed again (as she had several times when I talked to her recently) how much she missed having our Tuesday night dinners.
As I was getting ready to head out the door, she gave me a hug and did something that she never did during out times together. I’ll be honest, it worried me and, in some way, hindsight being what it is, gave me insight to what was too soon to come. She hugged me and she began to tear up in front of me. She hugged me tighter than usual and when I asked her why she was crying, she laughed and said, “I don’t know! I guess cause I’m an old lady!”
I think then that I knew that it was going to be our last special dinner…I just didn’t want to believe it. However, I know that October 5th was, in all the time we spent together, one of the best nights we had spent with each other and I cherish more than any of the others.
I have always been thankful for having her in my life and for the lessons she has taught me, mostly unintended lessons by her.
I have worked with people, much younger than her, who struggle with making the change to this new confounded technology of the computer. My grandma spent hours watching owls on the internet, looked up information she needed or wanted to know, and had her own facebook page. When I told her how I used her as an example to those people I work with she told me, “Well, you tell them that I’m 80 years old and learned how to use the computer, so they should do it, too!” Lesson learned: you are NEVER too old to learn something new, age is never an excuse!
For Christmas one year when I was 9 or 10, I got a bedspread lovingly made by Grandma. I remember eagerly putting it on my bed that night and snuggling up under it. A few hours later, in a sleepy stupor, I awoke to my mom sitting on my bed and my dad hovering over her. They were whispering back and forth to the affect of, “I’ve almost got it”. I remember just closing my eyes and going back to sleep, I don’t even think they realize that I woke up for that short second. I had no clue what they were doing, but I learned the next morning…They were taking a straight pin out of the bedspread as I was wrapped up in it. As usual, she had left a pin in something she made for us. It was her signature. You rarely got a dress, blanket, shirt, any outfit that didn’t have a pin left in it somewhere. You would think that we would all eventually learn to look for those pins first, but we never learned. She hated that she did that, but we all loved it…it was her! It was her signature! Lessons learned: the best signatures are those unintentional ones. I know I’ll never look at a straight pin the same way.
Anyone who has talked to her in the past few years have gotten an earful of who should win, who should get kicked off next, and all the background drama of Dancing with the Stars. As with ice skating, it was a passion of hers. However, about two hospital stays ago, she was coming out of her sleepy state and very much NOT with it. So much so, the nurse who was caring for her felt so bad for her SHE was sneaking her ice chips that Grandma was not supposed to have…but she was just like an adorable child who, with her cute looks, could pretty much get whatever she wanted! At one point the TV was on and there was a commercial for Dancing with the Stars on and she turned to me and said, “I don’t care who wins.” During out dinner together in October, I teased her about that story as she was telling me about who she next wanted to be voted off. She emphatically told me that she most certainly DOES care! Lessons learned: No matter what anyone says, it apparently does matter who wins Dancing with the Stars.
I could go on about the many lessons she has taught me, like how stitching together things with love seems to make them last forever, because that blanket she left the pin in? Well, I still use it every night.
Or that a smile and wave from the window from your Grandma as you drive up, with a greeting at the door in anticipation of good news, is something that is worth more than anything and, I would give about anything to see that just one more time.
Or that having 4 first names in your life is just the right number.
Or perhaps that you should use your talents to bring good to the world as she made innumerable Teddy Bears for those who lost loved ones, just to bring a small smile to those who need it.
However, even in the last week, she has taught me one more, very important, lesson. I don’t think a person here doesn’t know my Grandma makes THE BEST Chocolate Chip cookies! She always had a supply in the cookie jar and if not there, you should check the freezer…and if not there you probably should check with my dad for their whereabouts. When I got married, I asked people to write down recipes for me and she, of course, gave me THE chocolate chip cookie recipe. I made an attempt at making them last weekend; I’m not sure why I never made them before, probably because I didn’t need to. She always had them and was not stingy about sharing them either!
So, there I was last week, making Grandma’s chocolate chip cookies. I followed her recipe to the LETTER! I mixed the shortening, sugars, vanilla, and chocolate chips right in and spooned them onto the baking sheets and placed them in the warm oven. When the timer went off I excitedly opened the oven door and pulled them out only to find that they were NOT like Grandmas! I mean…NOT…AT…ALL! I went back to the recipe and checked made sure I did EVERYTHING that it said…I did! Then I turned to the same recipe my mom had written for me…suspiciously her recipe had flour and baking soda in it. Yes, two ingredients that I should have known should be in there, but I was following the recipe! So, even now, she continues to teach me lessons…like apparently FLOUR is a secret ingredient; or maybe it’s just that NO ONE can make chocolate chip cookies like Grandma.
The most important lesson I’ve learned through it all, however, is that even though she’s not here with me anymore, apparently I’ll never be done learning from her.
I thank God that I had two years of dinner with her every week. I thank God that, after being laid off, I had an entire month to spend as much time as I could with her. I have no regrets.
But mostly, I thank God that I had her as my Grandmother.
Again, thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, and support of me and my family during this time. I miss her already!