I have started to write this post many times before I was able to find the right words. It is very difficult for me to write such a painful post, but it is also healing. I hope that I am able to depict to you the woman that I fondly call grandma.
Recently, my grandmother passed away after a long and exhausting battle with pain and cancer. I want to be selfish and wish that she would still be able to be here to be my grandmother, but I also find solace knowing that her pain is now gone and that she is in peace.
I have respect for any woman who is able to raise a large family and keep their sanity. And with many children came many grandchildren. My grandma always enjoyed having a large family. She thrived in preparing to host a family gathering at her house, and enjoyed listening to the laughter that filled her house.
I remember her always allowing us grand-girls to play dress up with her fancy dresses, shoes, and make up. One year, I desperately wanted a tea party, and grandma and my mom did not disappoint! Grandma loved seeing all of us girls dressed in her dresses with the fancy umbrellas. One of my aunts did all of our hair and makeup. We all strolled out to the front lawn in grandma’s shoes, dresses dragging behind us, and our eye lids heavy with mascara to feel fancy for a day. Grandma and my mom set up a beautiful table and streamers and prepared fancy finger foods for the event.
For Easter, enough candy to fill a small convenience store was hidden in the woods and around her yard. All of the grandchildren were assigned an animal sound that we had to make before picking up our candy. If we failed to make the sound we would be squirted by a squirt gun and had to donate that piece of candy to grandma’s over-stuffed candy drawer. We would continue to comb through the woods for weeks in search of any candy that wasn’t claimed.
At Christmas time, the family would gather at grandma’s house to enjoy the feast she had prepared which was served on her fine china. Our family’s traditional games were played and prizes were won. The entire house would echo with the laughter and giddy Christmas Eve spirit. After all of the games and over-eating, we would open the gifts that would spill out from the tree and engulf her living room.
Grandma was always active and moving. Until the last couple of years when she was unable to move due to the pain, I do not recall her ever sitting still for very long. She took great pride in her lawn, garden, and household remodeling. She always had a candy drawer stocked up for the weekly family game days or for when any of us grandchildren would have a sleep over at her house.
For one of my birthdays she took me, and the other grand-girls with birthdays around the same time, on a shopping spree. She gave each of us our birthday money and spent the day driving us around town to different stores to buy whatever we wanted.
Through the years, we could see the years of enduring pain on her face. I could tell that she was becoming exhausted with her fight to be active. As her pain grew more and more overwhelming, her faith grew stronger. She struggled with lucidity in the last year or so of her life. Although, a few days before she passed from this world to find her peace, I was able to briefly visit with her during a lucid moment. I will never forget my last conversation with her. She said: “I hear you got engaged! How exciting! Give that good man a hug for me and have a happy life together.” Grandma was always blunt and never gave anyone the opportunity to guess her opinion of significant others. It meant a lot to me to hear her approval of my choice for a husband.
I believe my grandma is finally free of pain and at peace. It is challenging to learn the new normal for my family and me, but we will always hold her close in our hearts. I love you, Grandma, and miss you.