Thursday, April 05, 2007

I remember

I can still see her, standing in the doorway in her housecoat and slippers, nearly bouncing with excitement as my Grandfather and I pulled up in the driveway.
She'd hug me so tightly, talking about how much I'd grown and how very much she missed me, as she pulled me into the kitchen to fix me a snack and find out what I'd been up to since she'd seen me last.
I remember the Irish blessing, the hallway filled with photos of us, the funny plastic runners covering the carpet.
We'd sit at the table, Grandpa would tell me about funny last names he'd read in the obituary or the phone book or strange bits of trivia that made me laugh-while Grandma would fiddle around in the kitchen, making her soup, starting my laundry {yes, she washed all my clean clothes-but I didnt care cause her washing machine was magical and made everything so soft and fresh smelling}.
She'd pass by me just to touch my face or tell me she loved me. She never hesitated. And I always felt like a princess, pampered and utterly spoiled.
She lived through the Depression, and she had all sorts of memories of her large Irish family, 1st generation Americans, and her early years married to my Grandfather when he was a soldier during WWII.

I was often given my own tv room, because as she put it "Young people dont want to hang out with older people", while she and Grandpa watched a show on painting and she read the Reader's Digest with a magnifying glass.
At some point my Grandfather would come in and play me his newest tape collection, usually Big Band or Bing Crosby, and he'd whistle along to the music, telling me about this musician or that, it seemed he knew everything.
Then we'd have girl time. Grandma would run my bath, wash my hair, powder me with her giant powder puff and put me in the best smelling pj's on the planet. Then she'd tuck me in, but not before telling me once more how very much she loved me.
When I was older, I asked for more stories, fascinated by the past. She and Grandpa would fill my head with anecdotes about my father, or tell me about the time when they shared living space with other soldiers and their wives. She told me about how they had met and my Grandfather's first "interview" with her giant Irish brothers.
I had a rough adolescence, but it never seemed to enter her door. Inside Grandma's house I was always a princess, always coddled and spoiled, always sure I was loved.
I wish I had appreciated it more, written all the stories down, spent more time with them both. But they never complained.
Before she lost her memory of me due to Alzheimer's, for years after my Grandfather had passed, she and I would talk on the phone, usually about him and how very much she missed him, how lost she was without him. And even then, she did her best to let me know how much he had loved me, how much they both loved me, and how she knew I loved her.
A few years past I went to see her in the nursing home, certain that my experience would not be a shocking one because I had been a nurse in an Alzheimer's ward and I had experience with the disease.
When she didnt know me, when she seemed nervous to have me talking to her, I left. I got into the elevator and cried my heart out. I felt as if I had lost her then. But I consoled myself with the memories of her, those memories of unconditional love that I took out whenever times were hard, whenever I needed a hot cocoa or a hug.
Yesterday my father called to tell me she died. She'd been fine, eating in the dining room, and then her heart just stopped.
I cried for me. I cried because I would never again round the corner in my Grandfather's big car to see her waving in the doorway. I would never again have her hug me, feel her soft skin, watch her as she pinned up her hair in that style she'd worn for years.
But I am happy for her. My Grandmother loved my Grandfather, all she'd wanted for the decade plus that she'd been without him was to join him. She had outlived everyone, her siblings, her parents, her husband. And now she's with them all again.

I love you Grandma Kay. Give Grandpa a kiss from his Wiggle Worm.


Blogger Crystal Jordan said...

Awwww...She's beautiful and you look so adorable in your picture with her.

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Toni Sue said...

I'm crying as I write this. Your words have stirred memories of my own grandparents who have gone years ago. I hope that they greated your grandmother with a warm hug. Know that she is in a better place now. And I am sending all the light your way because for you my dear friend, the world! (((HUGS)))

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Michelle said...

This was beautiful. My Nana died after suffering for years with Alzheimers. She also lived for too many years without my Papa, who had passed before her, and died on their wedding anniversary. I chose to believe he called her home to be with him. I am crying for you and I offer you my heartfelt condolences but I also know that it's a better thing all the way around than living with that horrible disease.

Hugs my friend. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

3:34 PM  
Anonymous Margo Lukas said...

Grandparents are so special. It's great you can take comfort in knowing she loved your grandfather so much, and now they're together forever.

That was a touching post. It made me cry...

3:46 PM  
Blogger Shelli Stevens said...

Oh that's so sweet. You made me tear up. What a beautiful tribute. I bet she's smiling down right now, and knows exactly who you are.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Kissa Starling said...

That is so touching. I will keep you in my thoughts. Thanks for posting the photos. You have me crying just thinking about my own grandmother. She writes too and has promised to send me copies of all of her work. I could listen to her talk about the past forever. I think I'll go call her.

4:32 PM  
Blogger R.G. ALEXANDER said...

Thank you all for all your kind thoughts. Its good to have friends.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Jass said...

I admit to tears. My Dad passed in 2000. There will never be anyone to call me "Babykins" again. I'm sorry for your loss.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

What a beautiful, moving tribute to your grandmother, and how very lucky you were to have her with you for so long. I never got to know any of my grandparents and envy you that connection. (((HUGS)))

6:39 PM  
Blogger Kristen Painter said...

That was really beautiful and I too am reminded of my wonderful grandmother.

I don't mind the tears I'm shedding. The good memories are worth it. Thanks so much for sharing this.

6:40 PM  
Blogger Eden Bradley said...

Well, now you've made me cry. Not just because your Grandma's passing is sad, but also because of your lovely memories of her that remind me so much of my own Grandma.
Your Grandma was such a beauty! And such a loving person. How wonderful that you had those years with her, in a day and age when fewer kids even get to know their granparents.
{{{Hugs}}} because I know it's hard!

7:07 PM  
Blogger Lillian Feisty said...

Very moving. Vey well written. Your gram would be proud.

11:12 PM  
Blogger Karen Erickson said...

I love the pictures - thanks for sharing. I'm sorry you lost your grandma - grandparents are special. Cherish your memories, write them down! You'll be thankful you did.

11:17 PM  
Blogger Rhian / Crowwoman said...

I'm so sorry sweetie. I still miss my Oma who had the most profound influence on my life. Beautifully written.

5:58 AM  
Blogger R.G. ALEXANDER said...

Thank you all so much. My sister and I read your posts and we cried as well. I'm so thankful my memories brought back your own, mine are definitely like gold to me.

11:29 AM  
Blogger L.K. Campbell said...

That was a beautiful tribute to your Grandma. I know you'll grieve her, but you're so blessed to have those wonderful memories.

4:12 PM  
Blogger Morag McKendrick Pippin said...

A moving tribute. What wonderful memories you have to treasure your whole life.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Robin L. Rotham said...

Oh, RG, I'm so sorry for your loss. There's nothing like a wonderful grandmother to keep the wide-eyed child in you alive well into adulthood. I'm glad you had her.

1:01 AM  
Anonymous CC said...

So poignant, and so beautiful, RG. Your grandmother loved you so very much. And to them, you'll always be wiggle worm, sugar.

She may have passed into shadow, but that is not an end, dear one. It's truly a beginning. Life without end takes many forms. ((hugs))

Blessed Be,

10:23 AM  
Blogger Eva Gale said...

Back to read this again. My husband's father has Alzheimers and we spent the day with his parents for Easter. Yesterday was a good day for him.

Not only that, but your Grandmother, and my Nana seemed alot alike, growing up the same way, through the war, big Irish family's. Your memorial made me miss my Grands so much.


10:33 AM  
Blogger N.J.Walters said...

What a beautiful tribute to your grandmother. I'm so sorry for your loss.

12:09 PM  
Blogger R.G. ALEXANDER said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:35 PM  
Blogger R.G. ALEXANDER said...

thank you all again-your support means a lot to me-and when my family read your comments-it meant a lot to them as well.

12:37 PM  

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