My grandmother passed away this weekend — the one that I thought would live forever. She could never sit still and was always the picture of a healthy active woman. Six years ago she was struck by PSP, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy a debilitating disease that results in gradual loss of certain brain cells causing slowing of movement and reduced control of walking, balance, swallowing, speaking and eye movement. It has been diagnosed in just 20,000 people.
I thought I would use this post as a very, very small memorial to a woman that taught me much about living and about how to let others live and how to take life as it comes. I will miss you grandma.
10 Memories I Have of My Grandma
- Not one to waste, my grandmother would often, facing scorn and ridicule, do things such as wash paper plates (and not the plastic coated kind), bring “extra” chicken home from buffet dinners in her watermelon-sized purse, and reuse plastic bags past the point which that it was probably safe. All the while she was proudly defiant, certain that she was right to be thrifty.
- For years my grandmother (and my mother) would spend the better portion of two days each week on dark, smokey alleys…bowling. I remember going with them and feeling like I owned the joint — playing video games until the quarters ran out and establishing a social hierarchy with the other bowling brats ala Lord of the Flies.
- “Why don’t you turn that off?” or some variation such as “That is no good, why don’t you turn that garbage off?” was almost my grandmother’s mantra on those holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas on which football games were broadcast. I am not sure if she really didn’t like the sport or she rather more, relished in the anguished cries for her to be quiet from all the men.
- My first golfing experience was when my grandma took me to the local 9-hole, par 3 course and, with the patience of a saint — and the ball supply of…well, something with a lot of balls — proceeded to teach me about the game. Aside from the time alone with my grandma, I also distinctly remember the two of us running out of site as a shot of mine sailed well right and into some nearby apartment buildings.
- “Don’t tell your grandpa.” That was a favorite game of both my grandma and my grandpa. They would each tell me this in hushed, conspiratorial tones, perhaps after just buying me an ice cream cone, or covertly slipping a $20 bill into my shirt pocket. I always thought I was getting away with something but the more I think about it, I am sure they each knew (if they weren’t co-conspirators) what the other was doing.
- Though some claim it is impossible I can recall my very first new years eve. Being a baby, I was in bed long before midnight, however, wanting to expand my palate to the finer things in life sooner rather than later, I climbed out of my crib, crawled out of the bedroom, down the hall, and looked up at my grandparents who were babysitting me and, at the moment, were eating a lobster dinner with champagne. And though I was only 7 1/2 months old, I still got to try both.
- My grandmother could kick anyone’s ass in Scrabble. She knew words that began with “q” but not “qu” and all the words with an “x” or “z” in them.
- Every Christmas we would spend the evening of the 24th at my grandparents home. This practice not only allowed my sisters and I to get together with the cousins and uncles and aunts (and get more gifts), but it also gave us a sense of stability. We came back to the same house year in and year out, despite the fact that we may have moved our own home once or even twice that year.
- Though her given name was Betty, my sisters and I called her “Super Grandma”. Though this moniker was earned over time, it was bestowed after the three of us were locked out of our house on a hot summer day. She came to the rescue and took us out for ice cream.
- Every summer we would fish off the dock at Lake Johanna just down the road from her house. We must have pulled in 20-30 sunfish each time we went. After spending all day telling me that I was a great fisherman despite the fact that most of these fish I caught could swim through the small holes in a net and that she would bait my hook and remove the fish, and despite the fact that she went home and cleaned all the fish, cooked them, and sat with me while I ate — despite all these things, she still found time to regale me with the days fishing feats, and treat me, for that afternoon, as if I was the only person she knew.