Yesterday, I arrived back in Germany after a short unplanned trip in the US. Some of you may have figured it out by reading my facebook blog page and the rest of you know me personally and knew that way, but for those of you who do not know…I lost my grandmother. My beautiful, witty, kind-hearted, Grammy at 81 years old. It was something that happened kind of suddenly and I didn’t get a chance to really tell her goodbye. Which I’m ok with. I have these great memories of her in my mind and I want to keep it that way.
I started this blog for one reason and that was to share with my family about my travels here. The blog grew and I now I have followers around the world which is incredible but today’s post I’m going back to the root of it all. While I was home and after the calling hours my cousins and siblings sat around the “kids table” and we told stories of Grammy. This for me was really special. So for my family, for my Grammy (if she can figure out how to use the internet up there in heaven), I wanted to share some of my memories and stories.
Just to give you an idea of my relationship with my Grandma, I lived with her for about 1 year, I think (correct me if I’m wrong, Mom) while we were changing locations and moving into a new house. I was with my Grandma EVERY DAY for that time period and it was fantastic. Some of the most colorful and greatest memories are from that time.
1. Handling awkward situations with grace
When I was about 4 or 5 years old I remember sitting in the dining room with Grams and I said quite matter of factly, “Grandma, you are fat.” Cut me some slack. I was young and didn’t know back then that it was a mean thing to say! And my grandmother replied quite simply back to me with, “I prefer the word ‘plump’” and she smiled at me with her sweet smile and let my comment roll right off her back. She wasn’t actually that heavy! She was just Grams! Snuggly and such!
2. Protecting the world from illnesses
I was one of those sickly kids. Constantly had some kind of illness I was carrying around. Well, during one particular sickness, my Grandma had to take me out in the world while she ran some errands. I remember going to the bank and sweating to death in my car seat. She had bundled me up in my onesie snow suit, complete with the hood up over my head. It was a warm sunny day and as we pulled up through the bank drive through Grandma did her business and said what she needed done to the bank teller. The woman behind the window saw a mass of purple move in the backseat. With shock in her eyes she asked my Grandma if I could have a lollipop. Grams replied, “Oh most certainly not, she’s too sick for sweets!”
3. Waiting ages for world wonders
A couple years ago we had found out that Grandma had Parkinson’s and also Dementia. It was hard to see her getting smaller and that in some ways, she was no longer there. This past summer in June she was visiting all us kids at my mom’s house. For years, she loved when we would sing and play piano for her (we’re like the Partridge family with better style). My sister who is an incredible classical music piano player usually didn’t feel like playing whenever anyone asked her. Grandma always asked to hear her play something but musical geniuses are finicky like that. This one summer day after lunch my sister offered to Grandma that she would play a few songs for her. Grammy’s eyes opened wide and she said in her usual wit we had been missing, “Well….wonders never cease!” It was just hysterical. For that one moment, we had her back.
4. Dementia may take some things but it would never take her wit!
Grandma has a birthday at the end of August a few days after me. This year I called her to wish her a happy birthday. I was talking away and said, “Grammy! Happy Birthday!! Make sure you celebrate!” and with her usual funny responses she said, “Well how many do I have to have?!” That was the last time I got to talk to her and I’m so glad I got to hear yet again, a piece of who she truly was.
5. Nurse June
Whenever I’m sick or Toblerone isn’t feeling well I use the old ways of healing that I learned from Grandma, passed through my mom, and now to me. Grandma was the greatest nurse. I was always sick when I was little, like I said, and when I lived with her I made sure I used up most of my sick days with her. She would crush up ice for me to suck on and swish coke back and forth between two cups to take out the fizz for me to sip on. I swear, it cures whatever ails you and I can’t wait until one day when I have children of my own so I can take care of them just like she did with me.
6. Old movies are all gems
I have this ridiculous love for old movies. Grammy had this great collection of old musicals that we would watch over and over again. Anytime a movie came on TNT she would have to tape it. There are a million VHS tapes in her house. The classics like Easter Parade, Meet Me in St. Louis, and my favorite The Harvey Girls. I’m so glad my Grandma introduced me to this old world. I loved sitting with her and watching the girls twirl in their gorgeous dresses and sing about a time I will never get to experience. And to this day, I can’t understand people who don’t have a collection of these movies at home to share with their family.
7. Pucker Up
This is story from my mom but I just think it is so classic Grandma that it needs to be shared. The last week that she was in the hospital she was sleeping mostly. My mom would go and sit with her and take care of her. Grandma’s lips were a little dry from lack of fluids so my mom wanted to put chapstick on her. Well, my mom needed her to pucker up a little bit so she said, “Mom, I’m going to put your lipstick on ya.” And Grams puts out her lips and waits for her “lipstick” to be applied. Still down to one of the last days of her life, she was still concerned about looking good and presentable. Grammy always had lipstick on! This was just hysterical to me.
8. Bunch of Bologna
Every time I went to Grammy’s house the first thing I did was walk to her fridge. Without fail, she ALWAYS had German Wunderbar Bologna. Which looking back is kind of funny since I live in Germany now and that kind of bologna does not exist! I would open the fridge, open up the deli store bag and go to town on about half the package. I would eat her out of house and home and it didn’t matter to her. She wanted to fatten us right up! And if we wanted to have a sandwich, she always had Potato bread. No matter what kind of sandwich we made, she always made sure to butter the bread first. Such an Irish gal!
I realize none of these stories would be funny to a majority of you since most of you didn’t have the privilege of knowing her. I’m so proud that she is living on in many things I do. We shared a passion for genealogy, old movies, and helping others. Before she left us I kept willing her in my heart to “please just stay here”…but now I think I’ve finally found peace knowing that she can finally be herself again. I left her a letter of love and a piece of my baby blanket and a piece of my wedding gown. She was there from my first moments as a baby and I know now that she will be there on my wedding day. I miss her so deeply but somehow am looking forward to the day I get to be with her again. To get to hear her say, “I love you ducky” once again.
Until next time, Grammy. xoxoxoxoxo