Celebrating the birthdays of those we have lost but hold so dear seems to be a theme this week…or maybe, when it’s you, you notice things like this more acutely than you normally would.
This coming Friday, October 3rd, would have been my grandmother’s 85th birthday. To be honest, she probably wouldn’t have wanted us to recognize it at all, but I imagine we would have gathered in her home to enjoy an afternoon of food, and family, and lots of conversation….OK, and some coconut layer cake she grew to love so much in her last year.
I want to honor her today with some of my favorite memories. There was a time when she limited our visits because she was unwell and didn’t want me to remember her that way. What I told her then and I am reiterating in this post today, is that my memories of her are mostly associated with the love I felt, the fun we had, the conversations that engrossed us, and the special feeling of being connected. So, here are a few examples of those wonderful moments…
Teaching me to swim: My grandparents had an in-ground pool put in when I was a toddler. As soon as it was ready, my Grammie had my brothers and I in that pool, with her hand under our bellies, telling us to kick, kick, kick and move our arms. She watched us for hours at a time, jumping off the sides, diving for rings, floating around in rafts. She patiently gathered us out of the pool, sat with us as we ate her famous BLT’s in the “bug house,” and smiled as we jumped back in the water ready to go at it again.
Sunday supper: Growing up, we spent most of our Sundays with our dad at my grandparents’ home in East Hampton, CT. So whether it was picking tomatoes off the vine, snapping the ends off green beans and shucking corn in the summer, or mashing potatoes, stirring gravy, and enjoying hot chocolate in the winter, Sunday dinners were my favorite. Grammie always ate last, after everyone had been served, the dogs had been fed, and usually one of my brothers was already finished eating. She was old-school that way.
Our talks: My grandmother once said, “Not everyone is lucky enough to find their soulmate in their lifetime…but I’m so lucky, I found that in my granddaughter.” We talked about everything: what I wanted to be when I grew up, friends, family (and the problems that go along with that), politics, poetry, school, sex in the media, homosexuality, who exactly 50 Cent aka “Fiddy Cent” was, death, and just life in general. I still find myself reaching for my phone to call her on my way home from work to talk about what I heard on NPR, or to vent about what so and so did or didn’t do.
Seeing her on my wedding day: My grandmother suffered from arthritis most of her adult life and serious pains associated with degenerative spine disease in her later years. Even though I was married in Connecticut, the hour long drive in the car was too much for her. We planned to visit her soon after we got married, in our wedding garb and all, to celebrate with her. But that amazing woman enlisted the help of one of her best friends who drove her to the church for the ceremony. When I snuck a peek at the pews full of people, there was my Grammie. That truly was a blessing on top of an already dream of a day.
I think I’ll leave it at this for now. It’s hard to condense 30 years of memories into one blog post, but as I’ve said before, my Grammie was a modest woman. I can feel her over my shoulder now, not wanting me to write about her so publicly but at the same time wanting to ensure I write something both emotionally engaging and grammatically correct. I may have failed her on both accounts, but ultimately she would still be proud. You see, I was her girl…her Emmie, and that was and always will be good enough for her.
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