My Grandma is a beautiful soul. She has an adventurous heart, a spirit that loves, and a mind that remembers all that was good in the “good ol’ days.” She has raised her children with a guiding hand and loving heart. When my Grandpa passed away twelve years ago, she was sad and missed him terribly. However, as she told me often “life goes on”. Grandma has managed to live on her own the past twelve years. Grandma has passed on her love of card games to next generation. Her kids, grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren all enjoy a good game of rummy with Grandma. She has spent hours playing games with “the kids” as she calls the great-grandchildren. She has traveled to see family near and far, she has gone to Europe, and most recently cruised to the Caribbean. Grandma is a vibrant woman who fiercely loves her family. To know Grandma is to understand nothing makes her happier than to encourage her family members to take the trip, take the chance, take the opportunities to experience life.
When Grandma was admitted to the hospital with medical complications from an infection little did we know that her life would be changed dramatically. While in the hospital, she suffered a stroke. That stroke robbed the memories that Grandma holds so dear. At times, Grandma has not recognized her own family. She had to be coached to move her legs to walk. Doctor visits, tests, evaluations, consults have helped turn the hours to days. The days now are now turning to weeks as Grandma has been moved to a skilled nursing facility to continue her recovery. Family members have sat by her bedside hoping to see improvement, progress, and recognition. Every now and then, Grandma gives us a sign that she is working to show us the progress we are praying to see from her. With the passing time, precious memories are churning in everyone’s hearts.
My sisters and I had the privilege to grow up right next door to our grandparents. Literally, on the same farm right next door. Grandma was at all of our school events. She volunteered to come to my fourth-grade class to teach a lesson on churning butter like her mother did when she was a little girl. I was so proud that my Grandma was at school that day. Every day without fail Grandma would meet us when we got off the bus. She arranged her schedule like clockwork to make sure she would be home for us. We would be hungry, and she would feed us. We would feel discouraged about something that happened at school she would console us. She asked us questions to get us talking about what was happening in our days. We would clean up the snacks, and then the real fun began. It was time for rummy. Grandma would shuffle the cards and deal us all in on the beginning round. She would get a twinkle in her eye, let out a chuckle and happily win most hands. In later years, she admitted she took great pride in beating us in the rummy games.
Living next door to Grandma was always an adventure. My sisters and I would spend time crafting with her. Grandma was a patient teacher. She would show us how she would do the craft but never corrected us, girls, when we put on our “spin” on it. Grandma was an avid gardener. Each growing season, she would patiently let us help plant the seeds. Then she would gently remind us that we would have to come back to help water and weed. Then there were the days, Grandma and Grandpa decided to take a drive and lets us tag along. Those trips usually meant ice cream and treats. Between helping Grandma at the church or the local county museum, she always had three helpers that were eager to be with her.
As I got older, Grandma was always interested in what I was doing and where I was going. When I decided where I was going to attend college, Grandma was the first to congratulate me and to let me know about extended relatives who lived in the same area as the college if I should ever need help. A few days before I packed up my car to head to college, Grandma inquired if I had an St. Christopher medallion to keep in my car. I assured her I did thanks to our church, but she had to see it and inspect herself. From time to time over the years, Grandma would still inquire if I had the St. Christopher medallion. I would tease her I didn’t need it because I knew she was praying enough for me.
Family is always first and foremost in Grandma’s life. No matter where you landed on the family tree, she wanted to know that you too were taking the chances and opportunities to experience life. Letters, phone calls, emails and visits from cousins near and far filled Grandma with such joy. She kept tallies on many branches of the family tree for many years with an open invitation–if you are ever in the neighborhood, please stop by. Grandma and Grandpa hosted many relatives throughout the years. Some relatives stopped for a meal and some for the night. Grandma always included us in on those visits, because she wanted us to know and appreciate our family tree.
When my husband and I adopted the boys, Grandma was praying for us and encouraging us along the adoption journey. Once the boys joined the family, she loved them so, and they loved her! And it continues on today. My Grandpa took pride in always giving the grandkids and great-grandkids their first bite of candy usually a Hershey bar. When P got to the age when Grandpa would proudly share the first taste of sweets with the little one, Grandma says to me with a twinkle in her eye, “I suppose I should carry on the tradition.” She sat P on her knee, carefully opened the Hershey bar and encouraged him to taste it.
No trip to Grandma’s house was complete without some of her famous doughnuts. She cranked
out thousands of doughnuts over the years. Doughnuts were her calling card. Births, deaths, sickness, surgeries, parties of any sort, coffee on Tuesdays or just because she was known for her doughnuts. Hours of conversations shared and hundreds of cups of coffee drank all over a plate of doughnuts. Grandkids knew doughnuts would run plenty while they were at her house. Grandma did not use the word no. She would happily get a bowl of sugar and encourage all the kids to get plenty of sugar on the doughnut. My kids grew up loving great-Grandma’s doughnuts. They would dip the doughnut sugar while happily learning the fine art of beating Grandma at rummy.
As I learn to accept that Grandma is growing old and her life is changing before my eyes. I smile because she lived a life with no regrets only lessons learned. I know growing old is a privilege denied to many. I am thankful for the powerful lessons she taught me–train my mind to see the good in every situation, love your family with your whole heart, and to thank god daily for all your blessings.
All my best to you,