Thursday, January 19, 2012

Grandma Mary

Every family has that person that they don’t necessarily take for granted, but just feel will always be a part of everything. For me, that’s my Grandma Mary.

After my Caroline was born, I was fortunate enough to be able to stay home with my girls. That was the same year Grandma Mary was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Because of my lack of work schedule and the fact that Hope wasn’t in school yet, I was able to make several trips up there to see her that year. The thought of a 9 hour trip with 2 year old and 2 month old sounds daunting, but the first one was one of my favorite road trips ever (I’ll post later on what we did to make it so fun). During that trip, we stayed with her for 10 days. I’d leave Caroline rolling around on the floor by Grandma’s chair and she was in heaven.

Not knowing how Alzheimer’s would affect her, I took several opportunities that year to ask her to re-tell stories and I filled in books I had given her so we would have those when/if she wasn’t able to remember any more. I noticed a significant change in her short-term memory almost immediately, but she was able to remember lots of funny stories about her and her brother growing up.

Up until the last few years, she has always been one of the strongest people I’ve known. She lived through raising 3 boys on a farm, being married to an abusive husband and starting completely over on her own in a time when it wasn’t as easy for a woman to do that as it is now. I think she has actually even traveled to every state in our country.

I have not seen her as much over the last several years as I used to and honestly, most of that has been out of fear. Fear that I would forget the way she used to be and only remember how she is now. Fear that my girls would have memories of her like I do of my great-grandma (who was a great woman, too, but always scared me as a little kid because she was cranky). Fear that her last memories of my girls would be those of a couple of rowdy kids who messed up her house.

I wish that the end for us wasn’t as sad as it is—I wish that our bodies and minds didn’t give out on us. I guess that’s part of why we look forward to heaven more as we age.

All in all, I have some great memories of her:

• Going to do laundry in the basement at the farm as a little girl.
• Tiny—the farm dog
• Her peddle sewing machine
• The giraffe, dog and elephant Tupperware toys
• Homemade ice cream on the back porch
• Her glass Christmas tree with the lights on it
• Robes with hoods for all the granddaughters
• The candy dish
• Puzzles
• Her 2nd wedding at age 60 (in a church with no air conditioning)
• Her little church
• Golden Corral and Ryan’s Steakhouse
• Her “Give Thanks” plaque
• The car she gave me in college
• Birthday cards with $10
• Buying cheetos for her and watching her love them
• Watching her surprise as all but one of her grandkids and their families showed up for her 80th birthday.

Just to name a few. Praying for more…

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