This Memorial Day I flew to Virginia for my grandmother’s 90th birthday. Her birthday is actually in November but as there is a family wedding in September, we decided to do things earlier in the year. I’m glad we did. My grandpa on the other side of the family was also ninety. The family kept saying we’d throw him a party; now he is dead. We were too late.
I just saw my grandma in January. She was as spright as a 65 year old driving me around Colonial Williamsburg, serving as a greeter at church, baking cookies and walking two miles a day. She basically exhausted me. Having an active grandma all my life, I’ve taken it for granted that she will always be active.
(If you look at the back line of this photo, you’ll see granny’s favorite football player came to honor her as well… Actually, he is a cardboard figure of Brett Favre – Packer alum. Granny was thrilled!)
In four months my grandma has changed. She has started to hang onto people’s arms at times for balance, even though she lives in her own home. She became emotional one night and had one of her daughters stay up with her holding her hand. She missed church the next morning – something that never happens. Albeit, she is still sharp as a tack but I am no longer naive. She might not make it to 100.
My grandmother is an amazing woman – kind, smart and tough. Old fashioned yet contemporary. But she doesn’t do emotions well. She is of that generation that is stoic. From farm stock.
My grandmother had a hard childhood but never talks about it. She also lost her most beloved son – my father – to drug addiction and narcissism. When his life and law practice shattered, she couldn’t address it. For a number of years my relationship with her was strained because I reminded her too much of my dad. So in her own way, she distanced me a little from her heart. Thankfully, God and time has healed that.
My grandmother was one of the first people I called when my mom left me a suicide note.
This weekend she pulled me aside and said, “I am so proud of you. You are holding up so well. And I know it’s hard.”
I love my grandma more than words can ever express. If she only knew how much.
Out of all the woman I’ve admired and who have made a difference in my life, she is one of the most significant. Whether teaching me to knit and make jam or telling me that as a woman, it is critical to have a mind of one’s own independent of a man, she has made an impact. I witnessed her lead the woman’s Republican party in her home state (grrr…) and go on bird watching Safaris in Africa. She has been a woman way ahead of her times.
If I am anything like her, I will be proud.
When you say Granny, you say it all…