Earlier this week, on January 22nd, my family lost its matriarch; my grandfather lost the love of his life, my mother lost her mother and I lost a very close grandmother who will never get to meet the baby I’m carrying – a baby she was so very excited to meet.
I’m not confident in my ability to accurately depict the immensely incredible life she lived and it’s getting harder to type every word as I’m constantly wiping tears from my face, but I’ll do my best.
My grandmother was one of twelve siblings and married my grandfather right out of high school. Together they had five biological children and adopted two additional kids when I was about three. She worked odd jobs throughout her life; I most distinctly remember her working at a local bakery and then serving as a lunch lady when I was in elementary school and into early middle school. Sometime after that, she retired and took to babysitting her grandchildren and neighborhood kids.
Some of best memories of my grandmother are lazy summer days with her. During the summer, she would pick us up for the free movie days at the theater, we’d get pizza, go back to her house and spend the rest of the day in the pool. Even as we grew older, my now husband would spend some days poolside with me and my younger siblings.
At 4’10” and 100 pounds soaking wet, my grandmother was a little ball of fire that I’m sure most people did not expect. She had a get it done attitude, but a playfulness that made even the most tedious tasks lighter and upbeat. That same get it done attitude also landed her in some rough spots over the years. For example, the week before her surprise 50th anniversary part she started a bonfire on her property with gasoline – little to her knowledge she was standing too close and ended up in the hospital with some 2nd degree burns and no eyebrows. Even through all her trials, she always remained strong and upbeat with a passion for life I have only ever seen in one other person.
What no one tells you when someone passes is that the little details you remember about that person are the memories you’ll hold most dear and pull at your heart the hardest. When we were little, she’d used to tell us “pizza crusts make your eyelashes grow” and “the bruises on bananas make you beautiful” – I obviously have reservations on the validity of those statements, but I know I’ll be repeating them to my own children.
My grandmother lived a beautiful life, loved and is loved by so many people. Before she passed, she told the nurse at the hospital that she “had a beautiful house with a beautiful bedroom with sunlight coming in” and that’s where she wanted to go. Grandma got her wish, passing away peacefully in her beautiful house, surrounded by the people who love her.
Even though she’s gone, her legacy lives on in her husband, 7 children (5 biological and 2 adopted), 10 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren (with an additional 3 on the way). Although I feel like 25 years with my grandmother was not enough, I am grateful for the time I got with her. She will forever be in my heart and in the hearts of those who loved her.