My heart was broken right before Thanksgiving when my Grandma, who practically raised me, and who cared for my children for years finally went on to her reward.
So much of who I am is wrapped up in the things that she taught me with so much patience throughout my life. She was the real deal. Strong, faithful, a good cook, a handyman, a tailor, a carpenter, a farmer, a wife, and so on. She could make a huge breakfast ( always biscuits and gravy) then go out and weed a garden, measure a cut some cabinets for a house they were working on, fix lunch, rock a baby to sleep, go birth a calf, and then cook dinner again, all while keeping all of the rest of us together. I’ve never known someone so capable.
I was adopted, and a lot of my new family unfortunately didn’t think adopting a baby was such a good decision for my parents. I don’t know what their hangup was, but I was always the one asked to take the family picture at gatherings because I wasn’t a blood relative, or somesuch nonsense. I hold no grudges, but not much love either for those people. However, regardless of my genes, to my Grandma I was always her darlin’ ( that is, until my daughter came along, 😀 ).
I was fortunate enough to live next to her all my growing up years, and some after. She taught me how to cook, and how to sew. She taught me how to be tough, and by example she taught me what kind of a woman I wanted to be. My biggest fears were always disappointing her and my mother.
When it became evident that I was not made out of the same tough stuff that they both were, that my bones and my insides were fragile in a way they couldn’t understand, they still loved me and pushed me to my limits. When I couldn’t keep up, she always picked up my slack. She was there for the birth of all my babies, and she cared for them when I went back to work.
She had her first stroke painting an antique bed bubblegum pink outside for my daughter. I remember looking at the bottoms of her feet, covered in pink paint sticking out from under the sheet in her ICU bed. I walked out of the last few hours of my college internship to be with her there, and never regretted it.
She had several more strokes, heart attacks, clots, and then ultimately kidney failure. The ending of her life was long and painful for everyone involved, but it just reaffirmed that she was something rare, and I guess the world was as unready to lose her as we were.
Now that she’s gone, my mother and I, who were closer to her than anyone but her husband feel left adrift. Floating out in the ether with no tether to anything solid. She was our solid thing, she was our rock.
I don’t grieve her, because she lives on in everything I am. Through my kids, and through every interaction I have with the world. However I am still finding my way, trying to figure out how to go on without her.
She was a practical woman, one who never understood my writing, and who would have been just as proud of me if I had dropped out of school. In fact, she suggested it several times when my UIL competitions interfered with family reunions or something. That being said, she was always the first person to brag on my blue ribbons, and listen avidly to whatever story was rattling about in my head.
I hope up there in Heaven she knows that down here I’m still trying. Still working, and waiting for the time when we get to see each other again, so I can tell her more stories.