Thursday, December 18, 2008

a very sad goodbye

when I was a little girl, I longed for a Grandma. Not just any Grandma, she had to be funny, and playful. She had to smile a lot, and she had to love me very much. We would bake cookies and play games like Hide and Seek. She would be fun, witty, and beautiful. My Mom's mom was alive, but she was not very involved with us, she had 15 kids and by the time her youngest child's daughter came along, there wasnt much left. She gave me some neat memories, for sure. But she wasnt fun, funny, or particularly interested in me. My dad's mom was so wrapped up in her own family, my parents were divorced and we rarely saw them after about age 5. I remember being very proud when I went for a visit once and my picture was hanging in a frame in her kitchen. I felt really special, I mattered. But she never baked cookies or played games. I felt like I was missing out. My mom remarried, and his Mom was my Grandma. But she was never MY Grandma, really. Her husband was my Grandpa, he laughed and played with us, took us to amusement parks. But they lived far away, and she wasnt really Grandma material, baking cookies would have meant flour on her expensive pantsuits, and kids were messy and noisy. I loved them, those Grandmas of mine, but they werent like the Grandmas in the story books. I grew up not ever having that connection, and even as an adult, I craved it.
My Mom remarried when I was well into my own life. The man she married is gregarious, funny, charming, and so decent a man that I can barely believe my luck. I love him, and have told him many a time I wish he was my real Dad. I dont call him Dad, but I wish I was brave enough to. He tells me he loves me often, and we chat on the phone easily, with no self consciousness or discomfort. I love him dearly, and thank God I have him. I always wanted a Daddy too, and he is the best thing I could have gotten in that department.
A few weeks ago, we visited Florida, and spent Thanksgiving with them. My brother and his family drove down from Georgia, and we all crammed into their little retirement community home. It was very nice, MUCH bigger than expected, and full of good food, laughter, and family. Thanksgiving Day I finally met Vern's Mom. It was love at first sight. She was funny, charming, interested in everything I had to say, and a delightful lady all around. It sounds silly to say that I loved her. I know people say it all the time...." OH I LOVE her, shes so cool." But I felt a genuine love for this woman, she raised my Stepdad, after all. The connection between us was automatic. We sat and giggled and laughed and talked for an hour, she asking me questions and checking out my Ipod videos of the kids. The next day, she went shopping with us at a huge mall. We went into stores together, walked together, sat on benches outside together and laughed for no reason.She felt so real to me, so mine. It is hard to explain, but I felt like Finally, I got my Grandma. I like to think it was kind of mutual. I think she and I are a lot alike, same crazy sense of humor, same love of gadgets, and the same love for our families. We dropped her off at home that night, and we hugged goodbye. We would be leaving the next day, and I told her how nice it was to finally meet her, and how much fun I had had with her. I didnt tell her that she had already stolen my heart, that I felt a hole filled up with her. She isnt my blood, but she couldnt have felt more real to me if she was.
Vern was on his way to see his folks this afternoon when his Dad called, and said "Come now." He walked through the door to see EMTs doing CPR on his beloved mother. Massive heart attack, and she was gone. She didnt suffer, I guess. It happened very quickly. And just as fast as it happened, just as fast as her heart stopped beating, I lost the Grandma I had longed for for my whole life. And I am sad. Sadder than I would have ever imagined. I never really "knew" her. I never had the privelege of baking cookies, or watching her bustle around the kitchen. But we laughed, and we had a connection that was instantaneous and deep. My Step Dad told me she had mentioned me many times since that day, how much she liked me, how funny I was, and smart. Like a genuine Grandma, she was bragging about me to her friends.
I feel like I lost something too huge to name today. And yet, I feel deeply honored to have known her, to have known her kindness, enjoyed her laughter. I got my Grandma, it wasnt for very long at all. But I got her. And I will treasure that always. Rest in peace, Grandma Record. You were a treasure.

1 comment:

Ruby's Mom said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.She sounds like she was a really neat lady.