I’m sitting here trying to rack my brain on what to write and how to write this. At 5:27 pm on January 18, 2016 my dad called me and told me that my grandma had passed away. For a few moments I had no words. Tears filled my eyes and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My grandma wasn’t here anymore…. She wasn’t in her little house watching the weather channel while drinking tea, she wasn’t dusting her doll collection, she wasn’t about to call me to check in and see how the weather was in her old town or asking to fill her in on how the family’s doing. She was gone…leaving behind 2 of her 3 children, 10 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren.
When I think about my grandma, I always think about her in her old home…the one she moved in to after my grandpa passed away and she moved to the city. My grandma was an amazing artist. Her medium was porcelain. She painted dolls, plates, china cups, tiles, hot plates, tea pots, etc. They were very, very good! Her kitchen had a shelf that spanned two walls, plus another in the living room, on which she displayed her plates. She had more china cabinets than I can really remember, all full of her treasures. The ones on the main floor were for her smaller pieces, like smaller dolls, figurines, etc. The basement was full of her porcelain dolls. She had collectors dolls, like the princess Diana wedding set and the quintets, and an assortment of ones she’d made herself that were all beautiful. She also collected beanie babies because she figured they’d be worth something someday.
My grandma was a very unique lady and here are some things that will always make me think of her: the pink chesterfields in her living room, the giant ornate mirror, the rocking armchair in her kitchen, taking panorama pictures, floral shirts and skirts with slippers, the smell of mothballs, her sunroom, and Sunny D are just a few. We would always fight over who got to sit in that big armchair! Otherwise you had to sit on one of the dining chairs while everyone visited. When we were little, she had a closet in the hallway that had some toys in it and as a kid I remember going straight to the closet to try and grab the best toys before my siblings got there. I also remember getting freaked out at the porcelain mannequin sitting at the end of the hallway next to the mirror.
My grandma was very thoughtful in her own way. She would find pamphlets, articles, or newspaper clippings that she thought contained very useful information that she wanted to pass on to us. I still remember getting slightly traumatized at age 16 when she gave me a pamphlet on how not to get traveler’s diarrhea. Or the time she told me never to shave my legs because eventually all the hair would fall out anyways. She loved her family deeply, even if we didn’t always understand the ways she showed it. She thought about us all constantly.
I guess my grandpa was the conversationalist of the pair; that’s what I’m told anyways, as he passed when I was just one year old. But she loved having visitors. She liked to putter around making sure people were fed and watered and had everything they needed. She had her special chair at the table that everyone knew was grandma’s chair. We often had to tell her to just sit and eat with us because she was so busy checking on everything and everyone. I don’t think I’ll ever forget her carrot jello (orange jello with shaved carrots inside) or her cupboard full of boxes and boxes of teas.
You never knew when she was going to give you a gift. You could go years without a birthday or Christmas present, but you’d go for a random visit and she’d send you home with a stuffed animal (that turns out to be your favorite for many years) or just some clothes that she wore as a young lady and thought you might like. Or one time we convinced her that she needed to get another VHS movie because basically all she had was The Adventures of Milo and Otis and we’d seen it about a million times. So we went to the store and picked out Atlantis and watched that one a million times, too.
She was always there for us when we needed her. She was basically the sole carer for my uncle when he lived in the hospital and couldn’t take care of himself anymore. She visited him almost daily and took care of anything he needed. She always had a room ready for anyone. The hide-a-bed was not always the comfiest, but it was always perfectly made up when we went to visit…right next to the Christmas tree that stayed up all year with a bag on it. She would always have a bed waiting for me if I needed to stay for a weekend while I was working at camp or just wanted to come visit friends. When my cousin needed a place to live for a while, she offered her downstairs bedroom to him. When it was my turn to need somewhere to live, she didn’t even hesitate and even made me porridge every morning and gave me as many canned crab apples as I wanted. I was staying there when I got the call about Matthew having cancer and I was living there when he proposed.
I’ll never forget my grandma. She was a very special and hardworking woman and she always supported me. There are so many memories I have of her, it was hard to just pick a few. Yes she’s gone, but we’ll never forget the time we spent with her and how special she was to us. I have already shed tears for her and I will shed more as more memories come forward; but I will always smile when I think of the times we spent together.
We all have our own stories to share of times with her. If you have any of her or my grandpa please share them in the comments, I’d love to read all of them!
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13