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Saying Goodbye

If we're friends on Facebook than you might have picked up on why I didn't blog last week - my grandmother passed away last Wednesday. I know I said I want to keep this blog focused on specific topics and less emotional one but the reality is I write it and while I have a whole list of topics I had planned on blogging last week and this week I feel like it's just not right. I still have a few "personal" posts up - my one about being motherless and childless had some readership over the past week being that Sunday was Mother's Day - and today I'm going to add one more personal post.
 
As y'all know my husband and I are moving in June and I'm so glad that on our last "social" day together (we saw her several days in the hospital before she passed) we got to show my Grandma our new house. Our current condo isn't very wheelchair friendly so for the past few years we have been going out to eat on holidays and we were really excited to host holiday meals, as we wheeled her around the new place and talked about our plans for each room my Grandma nodded with approval and said "you can invite me for dinner" which was very in character of my Grandma. I'm so glad that she got to celebrate our wedding with us and I'm grateful for the gift of seeing my husband not only the way I see him but seeing him through her eyes as well - my Grandma adored my husband.
 
When most people talk about their Grandma its easy to imagine a sweet old lady in a sweater knitting a scarf and baking cookies - that was not my Grandma. My Grandma was once of the most outspoken people I know and while I didn't always agree with her opinion I admired her dedication to them. One thing that amazes me most about my Grandma is that although she filled many roles during her life - daughter, sister, aunt, wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother and she was certainly devoted in each of those roles they never defined her. I've heard stories from my Dad, aunt and uncle about my Grandma when they were growing up and how she worked full time, took care of her own mother who lived with them, raised three children, cooked dinner every night, and kept the house clean - oh yeah, and she had polio since the age of 3 so she did all of this living with a disability - meanwhile I have no kids and can't manage to cook at home and have a job - don't even ask me when the last time I vacuumed was. But when my Dad and his siblings talk about my Grandma they don't just talk about her as a caregiver - they talk about her love of wigs and the crazy hairstyles she sported, they laugh over some of her antics (my Grandma had a flair for drama, I tell my husband it lessens with each generation but if you know me I can assure you this is part of where I get it from), they talk about her friends, and they talk about her general love of life and desire to live it her way.
 
By the time she was in the Grandma phase of her life she was retired and when I was young moved to Atlanta to be close to our family. Some of my earliest memories are going to her house - I spent a lot of Saturday nights with her as a child and then on Sundays we would go to church with my parents or just my Dad when my sister was very little. I was fascinated by her beauty routine which she referred to as "putting on my face" and I would sit on the ledge of her tub and ask questions about each item as she pulled it out from her drawer; she kept this routine up right until she went to the hospital last week - a frequent request for me and my sister was to find her the right color of eyebrow pencil. In the 80s Grandma collected porcelain dolls and so on most visits there was a new one to be shown off and then I got to pick one of the older ones - as the geographically closest granddaughter I had amassed a collection of over 20 before the hobby tapered off. My Grandma was also a lover of jewelry so a visit would also involve seeing her newest piece or going to the jewelry store to look at what might be her next piece -  a few years ago my Grandma was the first person I knew to start wearing druzy jewelry before the trend really took off.

Around 80 Grandma had open heart surgery and became more and more dependent upon her wheelchair - I think making it to 80 while having polio is pretty damn impressive though - and while loss of mobility frustrated her and eventually led her to need nursing home care instead of assisted living she never let it keep her down and would frequently ride over to bingo in her jazzy and always insisted she didn't want the wheelchair in the photo if we took a picture.

While it's fun to talk about the silly things one of the things that sticks out to me the most about my Grandma was that she was a woman of faith - she had to be really sick to miss Mass, in fact she attended her last one the same day she was admitted to the hospital. She  is one of the few people I know to actually wear out rosary beads - on the last day we saw her she was more concerned with a set she thought went missing at the hospital than she was with being there (don't worry, we searched that night and she knew they were found). She prayed daily, and while I realize that many Christians do I'm not talking about a quick oh hello God right before bed. She was steadfast in her Catholicism and it showed not only in her words but her actions.

No one is perfect and my Grandma certainly said, did and thought many things that I passionately disagree with but she lived her life full of love for the Lord and those around her and not only will I miss that but I will forever admire her for it.   

   

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