So this morning I woke up to a message that read “Just wanted to let you know Granny passed this morning–mom & I were here at the nursing home.” – Jen (My Cousin)
My Granny passed away.
As I thought about if I would write about it on my blog or not, I wasn’t sure what to do. You see my Granny was a lady of strong opinion. An opinion of which everyone knew, if you wanted to or not. A personality in which was difficult for many to be around. A personality in which many in my family, myself included, found it difficult to relate.
Here are photos of My Granny & Pa as well as their 3 children. I took this at the family reunion 2 years ago as we were going through photos.
I won’t be attending her funeral, I hope that in my own way, I can honor her life. I will share with you a few of my own memories and my own reflections about who she was. Because this is my blog, I will be honest and I will not sugar coat her life because my Granny lived life her this way. She wasn’t one to sugar coat anything. It was the way it was. Very blunt. I have a bit of that in me. In fact my aunt Sharon told me I am more like Granny than anyone else.
At the same time, her life was beautiful. She was married for over 50 years, had 3 children, many grandchildren, and great grandchildren. She never lacked in family. Yet I don’t have a single memory of a holiday or big family event, that didn’t have some kind of controversy or argument that she wasn’t involved in. One thing I know, she put up a fight, till the day she died.
Granny taught me what exploring life was about. When I was a child, I took a trip with her and my Pa up north in their motor home. Some of the places we went were: Badlands, Mt Rushmore, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, & all the way up into Canada. At retirement age, they went all over in their motor home and always had fun stories and photos to share when they returned. When I found out I would be taking my first major road trip with them, that started a fire in my soul. It is a journey that I have not yet returned from as I find myself living in Japan this very moment. A spark that I can say Granny lit in my heart and a piece of her spirit that I carry within. To me, it is a treasure and one of the best gifts a girl can receive.
When I was young, I would go visit Granny and Pa on the weekends. My parents were divorced and my grandparents fought in court to be granted grandparent visitation rights. She was a fighter and when she got it in her head that she wanted something, she went after it. I spent many childhood weekends with Granny and Pa. They would pick me up and as we drove to their home, I would always request to sing a song they taught me:
“Sherese was sitting on the railroad tracks, her heart was all a flutter. Along came a choo-choo train and now she’s peanut butter”.
I would laugh and laugh at this every time we would sing it. Maybe this explains my smile every time I open a jar of peanut butter?
Going to see her on the weekend, I was never short on the arts and crafts. Granny could always make something out of nothing. We would collect rocks for her to paint, she would use them as door stoppers. She would take pictures and paint them to look just like the photograph. She would let me come up with my own art projects for us to work on and she would put them for sale in her booth at the arts and craft fairs we would attend on our weekends with her. She had a whole basement in her house dedicated to these projects. I would always admire her artistic eye and sit with her in the basement as she would work.
One of my fondest memories I had of her is the first day I remember that I got to drive a real car. I couldn’t have been much older than 6 but I am not really sure of my age. Anyway, she asked if I wanted to get in lap and drive. Of course as a young child, I was ecstatic. Of course she had to finish her cigarette and quite possibly finish her coffee as those are 2 things she never seemed to be without, even driving. I still to this day don’t understand how she could smoke, turn the radio station dial, talk on her “bag cell phone” and still hear what us kids were doing in the back seat all while maneuvering huge boats on wheels (you may know them as a Cadillac). Anyway, I climbed up in her lap and I took on the wheel. I was a now a force to be reckoned with. I never once made a turn that day and she probably didn’t go faster than 5mph. BUT If their is one thing I know for sure, she made a little girl feel like she was queen of the road. I couldn’t wait to grow up so that someday I could be all grown up so I could drive just like her.
About 7 years ago, Granny and I had one of our disagreements that resulted in missing out on the short time she had left where she was still of sound mind, notice I didn’t say the right mind because I never think she was fully in her right mind. Anyway, she disagreed with me having my step-dad be there at an important day in my life versus my biological father, her son.
Things between us were never repaired. We never shared important moments together after this. It was a few short years later I received a call saying she was in the hospital and she might not make it. She never did fully recover from that moment and suffered from dementia. Again I will describe her as a fighter. She fought the disease till the end. Sometimes she would know who people were, other times she didn’t. She stayed true to herself by acting in a way that was never short of who she was.
The last decent photo I took with her was 2 years ago. I was home around Christmas and my aunt Sharon asked me to take a few pictures since it could be the last time we were able to get photos of her. This day was just like any other day with Granny. It had to be on her terms. She never did say a word to me that day and she refused to look at the camera and smile but she did let the nurses take her out in front of the tree for some photos.
This is a photo that Sharon took for me with my Granny.
Two months ago, I said my goodbye. I didn’t even expect her to make it till I got home from California but you will see the common theme here is she was a fighter and went when she was ready. The last time I sat with her Granny got up to eat some food. She demanded that she eat right away and when the nurses brought the food, she took a few bites and demanded that she go back to bed. They got her back to her room in bed and she said she was going to sleep. I asked her if she knew who I was and she just looked at me. I continued to ask her about some of the memories I had and she said she was ready to go to sleep. I reminded her who I was and told her that I loved her.
Since she is much older and wiser than I am, I can only imagine the knowledge she held and the wise words that she could have spoke today. How many stories she could share of pain and hardship but also love and joy. For anyone that knows my Granny, you know she died years ago but she was too stubborn to admit it and Granny went out on her terms, just the way she would have wanted 😉
When I got the news today, it didn’t come as a surprise. This was a long time coming and I am happy to say my Granny is now at peace. Her fight in life is a true testament of one’s strength and determination. Here is something I found that I think sums up what I am trying to say ” If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s to fight. Fight for what’s right. Fight for what you believe in, what’s important to you. But most importantly, fight for the ones you love, and never forget to tell anyone how much they mean to you while they’re still alive.”