My Grandma, on my Mom’s side.
I keep missing her.
I keep missing her as in, I’ll think of her, and then realize a piece of my life-puzzle is gone, a piece out of my Christmas can’t be found, error message 404.
We see our future like the definition of a line: it has a definite beginning point, and extends infinitely. Intellectually we know we’ll die one day, but it’s always way out there, both for ourselves and for others we know. It’s difficult to recategorize someone as from now on, only existing in your past.
No memorial is planned. So this is mine.
Grandma, Grammie, thank you. You were a force to be reckoned with.
You introduced me to marmalade – your favorite jam. I tried to like it when I was little so I could be like you, but the peels were too bitter for my taste. Now when I see it I unfailiingly think of you mounding it onto your toast, or horrifying my mom by eating it with a spoon, right out of the little containers you get at diners. I swear you even dropped a few into your enormous purse for later. There was no mistaking that you grew up during the Depression.
Your last batch of homemade jam – kumquat marmalade – is on my shelf. I don’t know if I can bring myself to ever eat it. I can see you rolling your eyes at the thought.
You wouldn’t ever let anything go to waste. Even in your last few weeks, you were trying to figure out how to distribute the airline miles you’d racked up to someone who needed them. Posthumously.
I wish you’d written a book, but you were a deep well of family secrets. Some of which I only found out about you in the last couple months. The first marriage no one ever talked about. The affair. Stolen jewelry.
It made you tough. You learned to fly and crash-landed in a field – waking away unhurt. You drove all the kids cross country, by yourself, from California to New York to board a ship for Tripoli. No other Navy wives did that – not in the era of Mad Men. You worked in an office (and always brought your tiny chihuahua in your purse). You became a widow and tried to raise your daughters – a gaggle of similarly willful, restless beauties. “Keep on keepin’ on,” was the advice you gave. Small wonder. You were a survivor.
You taught me to tell the value of a ring: is the band adjustable? is the setting hollow beneath the stone? is there a stamp or mark on the inner band? I check for all three automatically now. And think of you.
You traveled all over the world. The kimono you brought me from Japan was one of my most treasured possessions. You took tae kwon do with your grandkids and kickjumped with my brother down the sidewalks in Anchorage, Alaska.
Once, in a debate with my brother, you ended the conversation with a line I’ve quoted ever since: “Don’t confuse me with the facts; my mind is made up!”
You also pissed me off when I was little – like the time you cut my baby blanket in two. I marched into the living room, holding the remnants of my mangled love, crying and furious: “who did this!” You protested that you’d only trimmed the raggedy bits. I retorted that they were my favorite parts. And it was Mom who stuck up for me, holding back her laughter but managing to say, “Don’t touch that child’s blanket.” New respect bloomed for my Mom. It was proof of love.
You told me once one of my socks were inside out. I can’t remember what made me so angry except that you wanted to fix it for me and I felt completely humiliated. I haughtily informed you I’d fix it myself … and unwittingly turned the other one inside out.
We sang the hymns you loved by your bed and held your hands. “Yellow as a sunflower,” they said of the jaundice, and it was true. It clashed with your quintessentially purple bedroom.
I never knew anyone who wore as much purple or owned as many purple hued sweaters, blankets, combs, windbreakers, warm-up pants, jewelry, hats, scarves, and dresses as you did.
I could fill this post with memories. If anyone is even still reading. This is really for me – I know that.
Grammie came to our cast and crew screening of Connect To around the time of my 32nd birthday early this year. She gave me a check for my film – she had no interest in Kickstarter. That Spring in Seattle she looked so frail, as we walked through the Market. Over Memorial Day weekend, my Mom called me: this is it. come say goodbye. Two days later I was in California.
We sang hymns. We sang you to sleep. I left you sleeping.
I miss you. Thank you for being my Grammie.