My grandma died at the end of January. Her memorial is on Saturday. Twice since her death, I thought I’ve seen her in a crowd. But it’s been some other small, grey haired woman in magenta or royal blue crossing the street.
Magenta and royal blue were two of my grandma’s colours. “I have winter colouring,” she often told me. And she did look great in rich, bold colours. No matter the colour, she was always impeccably dressed, most often in dress suits and wool coats with her hair styled and makeup carefully applied. Her nails were her one bone of contention as she could never grow them. Well, her nails and that “last ten pounds”.
I was the first grandchild. My grandma was only 45 when I was born. I remember her in bikinis at Harrison Hot Springs when I was young. When I was a teenager, we’d drink diet pepsi together and read her Shape magazines. She also subscribed to home style and computer magazines. It was my grandmother who helped me scan my first photo when I was in my 20s to make a card for a friend’s birthday. She was such a smart woman, always eager to learn and try new things.
In my teens I spent quite a bit of time with her. When I’d stay the night, we’d often sleep together in her bed looking up at the stars through the skylight. We’d talk late into the night about her childhood and my dreams. In the morning, I’d get up with her for her crack-of-dawn dog walks. She had recently taken a speed walking class and I would sometimes need to jog to keep up with her even though I had inches of height on her.
I turn 40 this year. In some ways, it feels I am catching up to her in age. One time as I watched her applying her makeup (it always fascinated me to watch as she was skilled and I was clueless) she told me that the old lady looking back at her always surprised her. “That is not me. I am not that old. Inside I still feel I am the girl I was.” As the years go by, I understand that sentiment more and more.
Grandma had a rough life and had to make some tough choices along the way. She had her faults, as do we all, but one thing she had down was being a grandma. She was the kind of grandma who made you feel she believed the world was better because you were in it. At birthday parties, she gave the best gifts and always remembered unbirthday gifts for the other grandkids present too. She listened with intense concentration and took your views on things as valid and important. Any dreams or aspirations I told her about, she’d encourage me to pursue them and had complete faith in my ability to succeed no matter what the task. She was my cheerleader, my warm hug, my listening ear, my refuge.
Grandma had struggled with Alzheimer’s for nearly fifteen years by the time she died so, in many ways, I had lost her slowly over this time. She hadn’t remembered who I was for a long time. We hadn’t been able to have our traditional heart-to-heart conversations for years. And yet, my mind is still struggling to accept I now live in a world that does not have my grandma in it. I was blessed to have such a grandma as I did and doubly blessed to have her so long into my adulthood.
I miss you grandma.