Grandma with my daughter in 1994
I did not have the opportunity to know my grandparents very well, but I do have happy memories of each one.
Dad’s mom used to offer my sisters and me gefilte fish every time we visited, first thing, right as we walked in the door. Although we never took her up on it (in fact, I don’t think you could have paid us to eat it), I love that this is something I remember about her. I still have a children’s encyclopedia that she gave us, signed in her own handwriting on the inside cover. She died when I was 11.
Mom’s mom used to give us Boo Berry cereal when we came to visit, and it was the best cereal EVER. Boo Berry was reintroduced a few years ago with a new formula and sadly it was not the same. My grandma died when I was 17, but she had suffered from Alzhemier’s for many years before that, so my memories of her without being ill are from when I was much younger.
Dad’s dad entertained us with animal noises when we were very little. He and Grandma lived in a small platform house, and when we jumped on the floor it made a racket, so he would tell us not to jump because we would wake up the ants under the house. It is funny what we remember; that and the dinners at Morrison’s cafeteria. Grandpa remarried after my grandma died, and he moved to a nice Jewish retirement community in South Florida. He died when I was in college.
Mom’s dad danced and sang when we visited him in Miami while I was growing up, and he was my only grandparent to be able to make it to my wedding. By that time, he was in a wheelchair and very frail. He died three years after I got married.
Sometimes we get another chance to have a grandparent, and I have claimed my husband’s grandmother as my own. This family I married into is large, very close, and most of them live close to each other. I should have known we had a connection when my husband (boyfriend, at the time), took me to his grandma’s house and the name of the street was my name. I later learned that Grandma was the one who chose the name of the street.
Grandma was diagnosed with cancer recently and just had surgery, so you might think I am writing this out of fear for what is going to happen in the months to come. I guess that is true to a degree, but really I just wanted to put down on paper, so to speak, the things that are on my mind. Grandma is independent, strong, caring, and somewhat cantankerous. She is a lot like me. Although we aren’t related by blood, I would swear that we were. She loves to read (I love to read), she is not afraid to say what she thinks (I am not afraid to say what I think), and she has a beautiful way of accepting everyone without judgment (I hope I can say the same for myself). The things I wish I could have learned about my own grandparents I have had the great fortune to be able to learn about Grandma – who she is, what she likes, what her life has been like, and stories about her children, her parents and 5 siblings, and her grandchildren before I knew them.
Besides my love for Grandma, I feel ridiculously lucky that my kids know their great grandmother. My kids know how lucky they are, and I take pride in that. What a special thing to be able to say you grew up having a relationship with a great grandparent. Grandma has 4 children, 7 grandchildren, and 11 great grandchildren. My daughter is the oldest great grandchild at age 21 and the youngest is just a baby.
Grandma does not like the helpless feeling she gets from having to rely on others to take care of her. She does not like feeling sick or being in pain (who can blame her?). Doesn’t it suck that our bodies start to fail us when we really are young inside? I told her before I left the hospital today that it’s going to suck for a few days, maybe a few weeks, but she’s going to get better. I know she will get better.