Saturday, February 19, 2005

Happy Birthday Grandma

Today my grandma turned 80 years old. It never occured to me when I was a young girl that my grandma would ever look old or frail. I always imagined that there would always be grandma. However, today as I looked at my grandma, surrounded by her family I could see that I was wrong.

My grandma is the one who taught me the love of shopping. Every Saturday morning we would go to grandma's house in Rochester, MI and hang out for a little while. Then we would gather ourselves up and drive out to a mall, or Kmart, or wherever would be having good sales, and spend an entire day browsing and shopping. We would have lunch and then shop some more. Grandma taught me how to bargain shop.

I remember those Saturday's quite fondly, as they were my one reprieve from a fairly dismal childhood. Grandma's house meant candy, weakened tea, cartoons, playing Barbies, rolling down her big back yard hill, playing dress up, exploring her basement, and riding Big Wheels.

Grandma's house meant that I was not going to be yelled at as well. While grandma was always strict, she followed it up with hugs and laughter. She taught me that it was important to discipline, but also show love and respect. Something that I hope to show my children every day.

Grandma made me feel special. Like I was the only one in the world like me and that was a good thing. She laughed at my jokes and listened to what I had to say. I remember that her house was the only place that I felt safe.

I remember holding her hand and matching her strides with my short legs, trying to keep up with her long legs. My grandma was so tall.
Now, if I hold her hand I have to do it gently, or her skin will bruise. And I have to slow my strides to match hers and not go so fast because I am the one who is tall.

The best thing about my grandma is her laugh. Boy she can laugh. It's loud and she does it with her whole heart. She loves to laugh. So do I.
I remember when her laugh would embarrass the crap out of me...especially in a movie theatre. I hope that I embarrass my kids when I laugh...then I can say I got that from her as well.

My grandma wasn't the type to cook. She never baked cookies [that I can remember] and she likes to eat dinner in front of the T.V. However, her cookie jar was never empty, and she always had a secret stash of candy. And dinners at her house were always the best-even if it was just Campbell's Vegetable Soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.

I remember staying at her house on Saturday night, staying up really late, much too late...and falling asleep to the theme song of M.A.S.H., which I remember was one of her favorite shows. I also remember when she would color her hair, auburn. She had this special robe she would wear for those times. It was old and pink, stained with hair dye. I have one of those now.

My grandma insists on wearing slippers in the house...and I get older [and my feet get colder] I am wearing slippers as well. The ballerina ones with a little ribbon on the toe. I think that she wears slip ons now.

My grandma is older, quieter, and after several strokes she is much more fragile. But I remember all of these things about her, because she has made such an impact on my life...that I could never ever repay her, or love her enough.

I pray every day for her health. I pray every day that she has peace and comfort. I don't see her every Saturday any longer. I hardly see her at all, and I know that this is my own failing. But I love her. And I am so very thankful that she still has that laugh...and she still has that spark that makes me see her as I did when I was a child.

My children will only know her as she is now. And I am saddened to think that they do not have a grandma to take them out on Saturdays, hold their hand and give them the moments in time that they will cherish forever. But I hope that someday I am able to give those things to my own grandchildren. I know that my kids are only 11, 7, and 2. But I am looking forward to the opportunity to be called "grandma" because it is a title earned through love.


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