Last week my 97 year old Grandmother passed away. I feel a bit guilty for not breaking down, for not being filled with sadness. I don’t feel like she’ll ever be gone. I know it’s a cliche, but it’s the truth. Her funeral is tomorrow. I am unable to attend. My mom asked if I had any feelings, comments, stories, etc. I may want to share. I spent most of the week thinking. I should write something. Then my mom innocently lays on the guilt, “… you don’t have to, but you are so good with words…” Ugh… I’m not a writer, I’m a “reviewer”. So, I guess the following is my review of Life with Grandma….
Josephine George nee Vierra… Aunt Josie to most, Grandma George to me. Great Grandma to my kids, Ashley, Brittany and Charles. As Grandma got older, she was no longer able to recognize our faces, but she was always happy to see us, especially the kids. She was just the cutest little thing!! I love looking at pictures of her when she was younger. You can see the imp hiding in her eyes every time she smiled. She was all about having fun.
I loved going to visit Grandma. She always had a jar of those hard candies that stuck together as if they were 20 years old, no matter if they were put out just that morning. I usually avoided them. I don’t remember any specific meals she would cook, but I do remember my brother, Doug and I forever laughing about her frying a can of refried beans. That was just the funniest thing to us.
She was my playmate; how could she not be at 4 foot nothing? I remember she came down to babysit Doug and I while our parents were away. She would always play with us. Hide-n-seek was a favorite.
She loved getting a reaction from people. I received a couple reactions from her I’ll never forget. The first was when the neighbor boy and I were outside playing. One of us spotted a snake along the front of my house and the excitement began. Keep in mind neither of us were country kids and finding a snake in the suburbs really isn’t common. We decided we had to catch it – nobody would believe us without proof!! Now, we just needed something to corral it into. We look around and found the perfect container – a glass bottle! Grandma must have heard us because the next thing I know she’s running out the front door trying to figure out what we’re doing. She’s yelling at us. She just knows we’re going to get bit. Our hands are going to turn black and fall off… Apparently, trying to catch a snake in a bottle was not the wisest thing to do.
The second time I remember the scorn of Grandma, I was in my bedroom. I don’t know what goes on with that woman, but she must have had the “Sandy’s getting into trouble again” alarm go off in her head. I was standing by my door, screwdriver in hand, removing the face-plate of the light switch. I mean, who isn’t curious how that one little piece of plastic either makes the room bright as day or dark as night??? I’ve got the plate off, the door opens, and next thing I know I’m guilty of nearly burning the house down. Apparently, I’m not meant to be an electrician or a snake wrangler.
Looking back, I blame her for my love of chocolate. As a matter of fact, chocolate was the subject of my first argument with my husband. He still doesn’t understand why. As dementia slowly overtook Grandma, she never forgot her own love affair with chocolate. In fact, I believe Doug is still mad at me for letting Grandma eat his Christmas candy. Seriously, all the stockings look the same. And who am I to tell an elderly lady to stop stealing her grandson’s chocolate??? It just isn’t done!! I did feel bad, though, and bought Doug a replacement package.
And the hats!!! This woman did love her hats. Take her to a quilt show and she will comment on how “pretty pretty” the sunhat displayed next to the quilt is. Once she realized the best way to win at bingo, and get more hats, would be to stop “helping” her neighbor win. Grandma ended up with so many hats. I asked mom if she was going to bury the hats with her, but I don’t think she will. Something about showing Grandma in the most dignified light would not include her laying in a coffin half filled with an array of sunhats. Personally, I think God would be alright with it.
As sad as it is that she has passed on, I don’t feel she is gone. I close my eyes and see her knowing smirk. She led a long and fulfilled life. I think if she heard any of this she would just scowl, mutter something, and then think of ways to put me in my place. Live. Love. Laugh. This is my Grandma.