Grandmas (mine)

Monday, June 27, 2011

We love our dogs for lots of reasons, but one of them is that they help us meet our neighbors! Many of our neighbors have dogs, too, and it has been really nice to get to know them (and their pups). I always wanted to live in a place where you had your neighbors' phone numbers on the fridge in case you needed something or wanted to invite them for dinner.

Or to swim!

We live around the corner from an older couple whose dog LOVES to play with our dogs. Whenever he has a chance, he escapes from their yard and comes bolting over to ours (literally, he only comes here when he gets out- makes it easy for them to find him!) to see if Banana and Bert are outside (there is a good chance they will be because they love it outside!). Anyway, our neighbors' granddaughters (9-year old twin girls) are visiting them for 3 weeks, and so we invited them to come over and swim yesterday afternoon.

I just can't say how much the grandma reminds me of each of mine in different ways. She even seems to talk like one of my grandma's! Yesterday was the second time they'd come to swim (the girls are seriously top notch young ladies and are great company!), and both times I found myself lost in memories of time spent with each of my grandmas.

We spent more time with my maternal grandparents (almost every summer for 2 or so weeks), and the one thing that I will never forget is how fun it was to get up in the morning (grandma was already awake) and get the container of Nesquik out of her cabinet and make some chocolate milk while she made me oatmeal with apple jelly and we would talk about what the day was going to hold. That is my quintessential maternal grandma moment. We did lots of other things, too- picking strawberries and cherries, having picnics at the beach, swinging on their porch swings, playing badminton in their backyard, and working in her garden.

She has Alzheimer's, so the last few years have been a little rough on her (she still fights the notion that she has Alzheimer's from time to time), especially losing my grandpa last August. So although my memories of visiting her when I was 9 will never fade, remembering those times was quite a change from how I relate to her lately (and vice versa). When I was sitting talking with my neighbors and their granddaughters, it was kind of freeing to remember my grandma they way she used to be, the way it seems that the girls relate to their grandma this summer.

My paternal grandma lived further away (this grandpa passed away when I was about 3), so we visited her less (but she visited us more!), but the memories with her are not any less cherished or prominent. This grandma is the girly-girl's dream come true. She always wore dress clothes on airplanes, and whenever we went to pick her up, I always thought she looked so elegant! She was a very early riser, with her first priorities being to get the coffee going and to "put on her face". Meaning, get out her fancy makeup bag and spill it's beautiful contents onto the bathroom counter and start applying all kinds of creams and shadows and glosses with big fluffy brushes and soft applicators. When you are 9, makeup even smells fancy and decadent and alluring!! My day couldn't get any better if she decided that I needed a little blush or lipstick that morning. (It was seriously a little- she never overdid it- it was just enough to send my heart flying with excitement!) Her necklaces and earrings and bracelets always matched her outfits, and she always wore a hat to church. She taught me one thing I will never forget, regarding nail care: You paint a house, but you polish your nails. Don't even think of painting your nails!!! ;-) She made amazing Christmas cookies, and there was nothing better than sledding in her yard and then hanging your mittens to dry over the heating vent. She is also an amazing Christian lady- she always inspired me to stay close to Jesus, even (especially) when my heart was sad.

In the last month or two, she has been diagnosed with an aggressive stage of colon cancer, and while the original prognosis was up to 2 years, she has developed an additional bowel infection which has really taken her on the downward spiral quickly. As of this morning, her doctors say she has "weeks" at most. She has always been preciously small (I seriously think she weighs 90 lbs soaking wet), but my aunt tells me she is starting to look very frail. I want to go see her (even though it's a $400 plane ticket), but the bowel infection is very contagious (even the nurses have to gown/glove/mask when they go into her room, not to mention normal visitors), and I am not sure if it is advisable for me to potentially expose myself and baby girl to the infection which can apparently be difficult to treat and very stubborn. I'm going to put a call into my midwife, but I am sure my grandma will understand if I can't make it to see her. Right?

So while both my grandmas are still with us, I think the time is near when their time on earth will be through and they will be reunited with their husbands in Heaven. Just as it was neat to think of my grandpa joining the angels watching over us last August, it is calming and exciting to me that my paternal grandma will probably be doing the same sometime soon.

It seems like my neighbors' granddaughters have alot of love and respect for their grandma right now, and I hope with all my heart that they tuck away these times into their memories so that in 20 years when things are different, the happy times they spent together will soften any sadness that comes with their grandma slipping away.


Katie said...

This post brings tears to my eyes and a flood of memories about my own grandparents. I, unfortunately, lost all of my grandparents before I graduated from college. I miss them every day, and I often regret the times I maybe could have spent with them but didn't. Or the times I could have called them just to talk, but I got too busy. You are so right - those girls need to cherish those times and memories. Because you never get them back.


Coco said...

*hugs* Of course your grandmother will understand if it's not safe for you to visit her. She remembers those times too and cherishes them. She knows that you love her. Could someone take in a computer to her so you could Skype with her? Or you could send her a beautiful letter written on fancy perfumed stationary (sounds like she'd like it) about how much you love her. It would mean just as much as a visit, and she could look at it and hold it whenever she wanted to. I hope you will be able to know what is best for you to do, and that you will have peace with it.

Becky said...

This is such an amazingly beautiful post!!! What a moving tribute to both of your grandmas. I was thinking that it would be such a blessing for your grandma to be able to read some form of it (perhaps including it in a letter as Coco suggested).

I am so sorry to hear of their illnesses. Praying for you and them.((HUGS))

Mommy-In-Waiting said...

A very beautifully written post=)

Hillary said...

Love this!! I, too, have beautiful and vivid memories with both of my grandmothers.

Leah said...

Grandmas are so special, and I too will forever have memories with both of mine. I think of that al the time as I see my children with their grandmas. I hope they remember all the fun times.

TeeJay said...

You definitely brought back memories of both of my grandmothers, too. I miss them so much. I will write about soon so my readers can know them, too. Grandparents are such a gift. I wish they could stick around longer.

AL said...

beautiful post, M. It makes me remember all the great memories about my grandparents. I only have one grandma left and her health is okay now, but she was always the active, younger grandma and it's been sad to watch her health and mental capacity fade over the past few years.

hugs to you and your family