Last Saturday I had lain down for a nap with Oscar, thinking if we snuggled he and I would both (hopefully!) take a longer nap. Before I fell asleep, for some reason I had been thinking of my grandmother and how I had loved to visit her on the farm as a child. An hour later I awoke to my husband telling me that my sister was calling: my grandmother was in a diabetic coma and hadn’t woken up that morning. A short while later our family matriarch passed away. She was eighty-seven years old.
My grandma Ruth was an exceptional woman. She was very smart, but although she had graduated as her high school class valedictorian, she did not pursue higher education. As many other girls did at the time, she married and had children; nine children, in fact, two of which died as infants. She was strong and worked hard to raise and take care of seven girls, sometimes alone. She had been born just after the start of the Great Depression and experienced first hand the hardships and trials of life during the Dust Bowl and WW2. She knew what it was like to stretch every last bit to make ends meet and to do without. She is the only woman I know that could fit herself and seven kids in a Volkswagen Beetle.
She wasn’t perfect, but who among us doesn’t have their faults?
She was the best grandmother anyone could ask for. Grandma was very special to me. She and I had a different relationship than she had with many of my other cousins. My mom, sister, and I had lived with her for three years when I was in third, fourth, and fifth grade, so we were very close. She was strict – she made us mind our manners, clean our plate, and help out around the house – if she said, “Chop, chop!” you knew to get your butt moving, or else. But we also had silly time, snuggle time, everyday family time. After we moved, she and I would exchange letters for a long time.
When I graduated high school she and I went to Europe and spent a month traveling together. I found out just how much my grandma loved her American style coffee; espresso was unbelievably odd to her. I also found out how much she loved soup. I think she ordered it in no less than twenty different countries, and was always disappointed if a restaurant did not serve it.
Grandma was such a wonderful cook. She made an incredible pot roast. Her dressing at Thanksgiving was to die for. No other fried chicken in the world compares to hers. It was always a treat to stay the night at her house because she made delicious pancakes with hot, homemade maple syrup.
She loved flowers and took pride in her flower garden each year. When we went to Europe she took so many photos of flowers- flower boxes on Swiss chalets, flowers in roundabouts, flowers at famous monuments, flowers on the side of the road, and more.
She loved animals. When she lived on the farm she had goats, chickens, horses, cows, dogs, and other animals.
I loved visiting her at the farm because it was always a lively experience. She would let me pet (and ride) the goats, collect eggs, and wander about the yard. There was so much to explore and such fun places to hide.
My grandmother also loved babies. She had nine of her own, sixteen grandchildren, and twenty-one great-grandchildren. She never missed an opportunity to snuggle a little one. I am so very happy that she was able to meet and love my two children.
I had been so excited to see my grandmother at my mother’s house for Easter on Sunday. I am sad that the last time I see her will be for her funeral on Thursday.
I still haven’t processed that she is gone yet. I have thrown myself into taking care of everyone else and not allowed myself to think about it too much, except for collecting photographs to be used for the funeral service and to write this today. Obviously, I knew it was going to happen sooner or later, but I was not ready for it to happen so unexpectedly. That’s one thing that really sucks about getting older- everyone else gets older too and you begin to lose the ones you care about. I haven’t really cried yet… I know I am going to be a mess at the funeral.
I would love to give her one last hug, to smell her favorite perfume (Sweet Honesty by Avon), and to hear her call me Sarah Lou again.
Goodbye, Grams, I will miss you.