Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Grams...

My Gramma was born June 9, 1919 and died June 9, 2009.

I thought those dates were weird, but my Auntie told me that lots of people die on their birthdays and on major holidays. She does funeral announcements, so I guess she'd know best.

Grams outlived my grandfather by about fifteen years, though she gave us a lot of scares along the way. We thought we were going to lose her the Christmas directly following Gramps' death day, which had been in October of 1998. Grams got really strong after that, though, and started redecorating her house with a bang. She loved purple, so purple started going everywhere. The downstairs bathroom had been an awesome portal, filled with 70's brown-toned flowered wallpaper, and I'm talking huge flowers the size of your face. Because my grandparents were classy that way.

My cousin had a baby ten years ago, the first great-grandbaby. She brought new life to Grams, especially because my cousin and the baby moved in with Grams while Cuz tried to figure out what she was going to do. The baby, who we nicknamed Concreta (full nickname: Joaquin Ana Concrete Elaine...becase we're horrible people that way) (Ana is pronounced Ah-na), was totally Grams's joy. She loved her, and then when my first niece was born a few years later, Grams got incandescent with happiness.

Grams was the one who encouraged me to go to college. "I'll give you money, if college is what you want," she said. I promised her I'd get student aid, I never wanted her money. "I'm spending your inheritance," she'd say after buying something big. "It's not my inheritance. Nothing is, not until you die, and I'd rather have you than money," I'd tell her over and over again. I'd give every red cent in my (tiny) bank account to have her back. I'd live in my car if it meant having her back.

Every year, a few weeks before Christmas, Grams would call me. "What do you want for Christmas, honey?" I'd always say, "I want an official Red Ryder carbine-action range-model air rifle." "You'll shoot your eye out, kid," she'd say. Every Christmas. No, it never got old.

I always had to wrap my Christmas gift from her. I have three other female cousins, and she'd get us all the same thing, a purse or a makeup set or a brush set or something, and I'd wrap them all. "Keep the one you like best," she'd tell me. "Wrap it the prettiest." Eventually, she told me to stop buying her Christmas gifts, so I told her to stop buying them for me too. So we'd go out the day after Christmas and hit the sales at Target or Walmart and I'd buy her something she'd been wanting, and she'd do the same for me.

The Thanksgiving before she died, my mom and I stayed in San Diego for a few days, and Grams sent us out on Black Friday to buy a few things for Concreta and my niece, and my mom and I found a nice TV for me for only 200.00. I'd been wanting a TV and this one was a flat screen and everything new and shiny, so we picked it up. When Grams found out that I'd bought it, she insisted on giving me money. "It's your Christmas present!" she said. I told her it was 200.00, and she was like, "Oh. Well, I'll give you fifty." I put the money back in her purse when she wasn't looking.

I went to stay with my grandparents every year in summer when I was growing up. Grams would take me out shopping for school clothes, which I later found out she did for everyone, but since I was two hours away at the time, I had to visit. I loved visiting. Thanks to my grandparents, I knew who Perry Mason and James Rockford were. Thanks to Grams, I understood that Pierce Brosnan was the handsomest man in the world.

Pictured: Handsomest man in the world. I made this at icanhazcheezburger a long time ago. You like?
Also? Pierce doesn't sparkle.

I have always loved mysteries and reading because of my grandparents.

When I would go home in the summer, Grams would always say, "I don't know what I'm going to do around here without you." I never knew how lonely her life with Gramps was until after he died. I was so glad she had a second chance at life, and that she got her granddaughter and great-granddaughter to live with her for a time. I'm sure she loved it.

I wish I could have been more for her. I wish she could see all of the changes in the family, for the better, for her sake, that have been happening. My one cousin got off of drugs because he promised her on her death bed that he would. My one cousin is determined that she will keep the family together the way Grams did, and hosts Thanksgiving at her house every year. (Not everyone in my family does the Christmas thing, this particular cousin is Buddhist, so Thanksgiving is our big holiday.) My mom and her brother and sister try and meet up once a month to stay close and discuss the estate.

I will always carry a piece of my grandma inside of me. I will always remember and love her. Not a day goes by that I don't think about her. I have so many memories, and in that I am lucky.

I just wish she would have taken me with her.


  1. I remember when you lost her--it was a month and a day before I lost my Maw-Maw. This...this is one of those connections, a trial by fire (so to speak) that seals some relationships. For me, there'll always be this thin, painful layer of our friendship that traces its source in our mutual, so-close-together losses.

    It was the first time in my life that "I understand what you're going through" made me sick to my stomach. Because I knew what you'd been feeling, knew it so clearly and harshly, and I still feel it (with less sharpness, but even so).

    I love this post. Love that you shared so many distinct moments--things that give me a little window into you and your Grams--and let me see why she was such an amazing and hilarious (and loving and generous) lady. It also lets me see where a lot of what makes *you* so great comes from, and that's always nice. ;)

    (If anyone ever said I reminded them of Bridget Nifong, I'd be pleased as punch. But I'm nowhere near as classy a lady as she was. If only!)

    Thanks for putting this out there. I didn't know her, but I feel like I have a teeny grasp on what she was like, and I think I'd have loved her, too. Hard not to like a person like I've just seen right here.

    1. When you lost your Maw Maw, I just felt a kinship with you. It really was that moment that sealed our lives. We both knew. I was so glad we had each other.