Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Happy Birthday Grandma and Grandpa

Today is my maternal grandmother's birthday. She would have been 85. She died last June 28.

My last visit with my grandmother while she had consciousness was on this day last year. My aunt, my cousin and his wife, and I went to celebrate her 84th birthday.

In the waning days of her life, Grandma's mind wandered. When we walked in she greeted us but in the latter days of her life she stopped using names. For the last six months of her life I wasn't sure she knew who I was.

On this day she knew me because she told me my mother had been in earlier to see her.

My mother passed away in 2000.

Mom had fluffed her pillows and checked her pulse and then left. But she said she would be back, Grandma said.

A little later, Grandma asked, "What happened to your father?" She looked at my aunt, who said, "He isn't here."

Grandma looked very indignant. "He was here a while ago. He came in with you. That's just like him to leave before the party starts."

My grandfather died in 1976.

Shortly thereafter, perhaps the very next day, my grandmother lapsed into what I called a coma although I don't know if that is the proper word for it. I never saw her conscious again though I visited every few days. She had always been a little fey and I think she was seeing ghosts of people she loved as she prepared for her final journey on her last birthday.

Yesterday, June 10, would have been my Grandpa Joe's birthday, my father's father. Joe would have been close to 90 had he lived. He died in 1989 from lung problems caused by smoking and working in the West Virginia coal mines when he was young.

Grandpa Joe and Grandma Toots moved to California when I was a few months old. I seldom saw them; the first time I met them in person was in 1972, I think, when I was nine.

My grandfather and I hit it off immediately, apparently fashioned from the same cloth. Over the years we developed a letter correspondence and I learned more about him. He would have loved email had it been available to the public then.

He always teased me and said I was two days older than he was. Same joke every year. I never tired of it.

I knew the moment my grandfather died that October; I felt him pass even though he left us from the other side of the nation.

Grandpa left me a legacy of love of history, writing and music. Grandma left me a legacy of love of family. Between them I think I did alright.

5 comments:

  1. How wonderful to have had such great people in your life. Your grandfather sounds like he was very special.

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  2. I never knew either of my grandmothers - one died before I was born and the other spoke no English and lived far away from us. And I knew only one grandfather...my mother's dad. How lucky you had such a wonderful relationship with your grandparents...

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  3. What a wonderful post, Anita. You were so fortunate to have had such a close relationship with your grandparents. I so wish my own children could have known their grandparents. I think it gives you such a sense of rootedness and security. But I've shared so many memories with them that I think they feel they know their Grandma and Grandpa after all. :-)

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  4. Aw, that gave me the chills...in a good way. Everyone was visiting your grandma.

    Just found your blog. Looking forward to checking out some of your writing.

    www.GreenerPastures--ACityGirlGoesCountry.blogspot.com

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  5. I never tire of hearing other's stories about their families. What a precious post! Those memories are such a blessing from God, and I thank you for sharing them. I enjoyed reading it!

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