It was one of those "perfect" Spring days. The sun's golden rays were warm and bright and the birds chirped cheerfully as my sister and I played in our yard. I believe I was only about 3 years old. I remember that giddy anticipation that small children get when they are looking forward to something, or someone special. That day I was waiting for my Grandparents to arrive. I'm not sure why they were coming or what we did that day, but for some reason this is a memory that I have thought back on often over the last several years. Occasionally if I happen to be outside on one of those perfect days this memory crosses my mind and compels me to breathe deeply and soak it all in. Sometimes I close my eyes for a few seconds to allow myself to really feel the warmth of the sun on my skin and listen to the music of the birds. More than anything I think about my Grandparents. How much I love them and how they have always been like a breath of fresh Spring air! In this memory I vaguely see my Grandparent's car and their faces are blurry, but regardless it is my very first memory of my Grandad and my Grandma.
I have been wanting to write this post for quite some time, but I didn't have the words. I've been wanting to write something to honor my Grandma. To share some memories. I just didn't even know where to begin! The night before her funeral I woke up early to feed Lily and for some reason all these stories and memories flooded my mind. I decided that I just needed to start writing and see where it took me.
Tabitha and I loved to stay the night with Grandma and Grandad. We always felt so special and spoiled. Grandma made the best pancakes every morning! I even remember telling her that her pancakes were the best, but not to tell mom! Sometimes she would take us shopping and buy us clothes. That evening we would have a fashion show and model our new clothes for Grandad. She also gave us bubble baths when we stayed with her and her towels were always so soft and fluffy and they smelled so good! Sometimes she would take us out for ice cream as a special treat. I remember one time the three of us, Grandma, Tab, and myself were all sitting together in the front seat of Grandma's car and we had been to Hardees for lunch. Well me being the little "princess" that I was had tooted and I was so embarrassed! I was maybe 7 at the time. Grandma and Tab got the giggles and said "Livi just passed gas! We should call this place "Fartees". I finally decided to giggle with them too. I don't know why I remember this, but I do.
If Tab and I ever stayed at Grandma's house on a Saturday night we would "play church" on Sunday morning for them. We'd even have our own communion of grape juice and bread! I can hear my Grandma giggling at us. She thought we were the cutest and funniest little preachers. At bedtime I remember Grandma coming to tuck us in and sometimes she would read a book to us before kissing us goodnight. I remember her reading one of those "Little Golden Books" to us, but I don't recall the name. She always let us use her big bottle of Vaseline lotion. I felt so big when I was able to pump some into my hand all by myself! My Grandparents came to all of our homeschool choir and band events. I was always so proud to claim them! One of the greatest things about homeschooling was that we had a little more freedom and flexibility to spend more time with Grandma. I remember a lot of days that mom would say that we would have "car school" and we would take a little drive to see Grandma. Tab and I would rush to finish up our work in the car and sometimes we had to finish up at Grandma's house and then we would spend the day all of us girls.
This evening all of the family, Grandad, Mom and Dad, Tab, both Uncles and their families and us all went out to eat at Ken's pizza. We have eaten there a lot over the years. I have a lot of memories of eating there with Grandma. It seemed so strange to be there without her. It seemed so wrong somehow to be laughing and eating there with her gone. Afterwards Grandad invited us all back to the house, so we went there for a while. At some point I was sitting in the TV room to feed Lily. Sitting on the little side table next to the glider-rocker was a big bottle of Vaseline lotion. Eleanor and Chloe came in to be with me and when they saw the lotion they wanted some. I let them each get a little on their hands and then I got some too. As I was rubbing it in I remembered being tucked in as a little girl at Grandma's house. I remembered her kissing me goodnight. I remembered the smell of the Vaseline lotion, it was a little bit different than the lotion that was there tonight, but still a hint of the original smell that I remember. I wished she was there so I could share this memory with her. There are so many things I wish I would have told her. So many memories I should have shared. I hope she knew how much she meant to me and how many fond memories I have of her.
Grandad and Grandma took Tabitha and I on a vacation to Colorado one year. I believe I was 15. It was such a great time! It was so special to get to experience it with them. They took us up to Pike's Peak on the Cog Railway and we went to a Melodrama Dinner Theatre in Manitou Springs. We got to see a lot of the sights with them and it was so great!
Even into my high school years I still enjoyed staying the night at Grandma's. We would shop till we dropped and we would talk for hours about anything and everything. I always thought it was funny how if we were at the mall and we started talking she would stop walking. She was certainly not a "blond", but she couldn't walk and talk. I remember one Summer evening we sat out on their porch and talked as the rained fell gently from the sky. I always felt like Grandma really knew me and understood me and we had such a wonderful time together. She was my friend and confidant. We would get "tickled" about something and laugh together. My Grandma taught me how to make a pie crust from scratch. She told me that she never bought a pre-made crust. She always made her own and she was good at it! Her crusts were perfectly flaky and flavorful.
After Chris and I got married we would sometimes go to Grandma and Grandad's and play card games together and enjoy each other's company. As we got busier with jobs and kids we didn't get to see them as much as I would have liked, but I guess that's a normal part of life and "growing up". I never stopped calling my Grandma though. Sometimes I would just call to say "Hi" and we would end up talking for an hour about all kinds of things! My Grandma would say, "Well Liv, we can't solve all the problems of the world can we." and I would laugh and then we'd say our "I love yous" and goodbyes. If I was ever in a bad mood or not having a good day before our phone call I was always happy after.
When I started having babies Grandma was always so sweet and supportive. She always thought the kids were so "beautyful" and funny and she loved to hear Sean tell stories. During my pregnancies I would always call and update her after my doctors appointments and she was one of the first to know about any of the kids accomplishments and milestones. She was always so encouraging and appreciative when I would call.
I remember telling Chris one time that I didn't know what I would do if I ever lost my Grandma, so when she was diagnosed with cancer last Summer I was terrified. I knew she was worried, but I was so amazed at how brave she was. She seemed to take it all in stride. One day on the phone she told me, "Well, you can't stop living, the world keeps going." and she didn't stop! She just kept on being the same amazing and beautiful and loving Grandma that she always was. I remember her making food to take to mom and dad's even though she was going through chemo treatments and I know she was tired and didn't have much of an appetite herself, but she still thought about others and put them first. She was a gift giver. She loved to give. It was part of how she showed her love and care for people.
I guess there was a part of me that knew she was very sick and may not be with us for much longer, but there was a bigger part of me that wanted to hang on to the hope that she was going to get better. For some reason I just always thought that she would be here. She's always been there for as long as I can remember. Even in her sickness she never struck me as "frail and old". She always had the most beautiful blue eyes and her mind was always sharp. I always thought she dressed classy too. She loved her sparkle and "bling".
I saw my Grandma on January 26th, a Wednesday. My Mom and Dad, and Grandad and Grandma all came over for a little visit that evening after going out to eat together. It was always great to see them. That night I know my Grandma was especially tired and weak. She was shaky and not feeling well, but I was so glad to see her even if just for a few minutes. We didn't talk about anything particularly important. Lily was fussy and since Grandma was feeling weak she didn't hold her, but she wanted me to bring her close so she could look at her. If I had known that was the last time I would see Grandma and be able to have a conversation with her I would have sat close to her and held her hand. I would have asked her questions and talked to her and told her I loved her. Two days later I got a call from my mom saying that my Grandma was being taken by ambulance to Wichita. She'd had a stroke and we soon found out that the cancer had spread to her brain.
Chris's parents came down that weekend to watch the kids so we could go see her in the hospital. She was unable to speak or swallow and it broke my heart to see her like that. My Grandma always had something to say! She wanted to speak. She tried to speak and she even tried to write, but she just wasn't able to communicate. She could still say "No" very clearly! And she could nod yes and no. After seeing her in the hospital I think I knew that it was just a matter of time. Soon after that she went home with Hospice care. The doctor(s) had given her just weeks to live. I was able to see her two more times in her home before she went to her eternal home with the Lord on February 9th. I'm so thankful for those times. It was hard to see her like that. It was heartbreaking not to be able to hear her voice, but I was more than glad to be there to hold her hand and to let her know that I love her and that she was not alone. Sean wanted to see her "one last time" and he did well. Grandma seemed to really perk up when she saw Sean. He got a little shy and didn't know what to say, but he held her hand and said, "I love you Great Grandma Bubbles". She kissed his hand and it was just such a beautiful and special moment. I also brought Lily in to see her for a short time and she lit up for her too! She stroked Lily's cheek and held onto her little hands.
I miss my Grandma so much and I'm sure I always will. Already I've thought of things that I want to call and tell her about and then I remember that I can't. Throughout the day I will hear a word or see something that reminds me of her and I get choked up at the realization that she is gone. After the funeral and visitation I actually thought, "I need to call Grandma and tell her how many people came to the visitation!". I was amazed at how many people came to pay their respects and to support Grandad and the rest of the family. What a blessing! My Grandma was a very special lady. I am so thankful that I have the hope that I will see her again one day! That is the only thing that makes losing her somewhat bearable.
As hard as this has been for me I can only imagine what it's been like for my Mom to lose her mom and for my Grandad to lose his "baby", the love of his life! My Grandad, Mom and Dad all took care of Grandma during her final days here on earth. They did everything in their power to keep her comfortable and offer her their love and support as she faded away. My Grandparents were childhood sweethearts. I can't even begin to imagine how it felt for him to watch her suffer and to lose her this way. I never imagined we would lose her so quickly. I love my Grandad so much. I know this has been so hard for him. I know it will continue to be hard for all of us for quite some time. When I was a carefree child at the age of 3 just enjoying playing out in the yard and dreaming of my future I never knew that life would be so hard, but I am thankful for all of the memories and for all of the hopes and dreams that the future holds. I will always miss my Grandma, but her memories will live on in my heart.