Friday, July 16, 2010

Ode to Grandma Mary

Note:  When I decided to recycle some posts while I was out jet-setting, I thought I'd pick some of my favorite posts.  This one went up as part of a Mass Blogging Day.  Recently, Grandma Mary turned ninety and had a stroke a few days later.  She's doing okay; not spectacular, but still not as poorly as some ninety year-olds I know.

Ashinator's been promising me some posts, and we'll resume those after I get back.  Until then, I'm 'jacking her spot in my little blog world.

My Grandma Mary is the most beautiful woman in the world. She always has been and always will be. She’s the oldest of nine children, three of whom died in childhood from pneumonia. Her entire life has been dedicated to raising children: her younger siblings, her cousins, her own children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I don’t think that matriarch adequately defines her role in our family.

The majority of my childhood memories revolve around my Grandma Mary. My biggest goal – really, all of us kids’ biggest goal – was to finally get as tall as Grandma, who towered over us as a whopping four feet six inches tall. Not only was it a milestone for me, my siblings, and our cousins, but it continues to be a milestone for our children, though she’s now four foot four inches tall. She’s a tiny little thing, less than one hundred pounds and getting shorter by the day, but at 89 years old, she still draws people to her with her strength and beauty.

Growing up, the whole family would gather for Sunday family dinners and Grandma and Grandpa’s house. My parents and siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins would all spend Sunday evening eating and watching the Disney family movie. As we got older, the Sunday family nights went by the wayside, but we always spent time with Grandma. When we got to junior high and high school, we took our friends to Grandma’s and she welcomed them with open arms. I can’t count how many “adopted” grandchildren she has; each of us brought two or three into the family, which has carried on with our children and their friends.

I didn’t seriously go to college until I was 22 and married with two children. I got pregnant with my third during my freshman year and got divorced during my sophomore year. I could not have finished college without the unwavering support of my grandma. When the kids were very young, she wouldn’t hear of me putting them in daycare – they belonged with family. She was in her early 70’s then and stubborn as a mule. I didn’t fight her. It would not have done any good. Once the kids got to be pre-school-aged, I managed to convince her that it would be okay for them to go to pre-school. Luckily, they were spaced out enough that we could “wean” her from them. And then my cousins started having children, so she has never been without children to take care of.

She is the glue that holds the family together. We – me, my sibs, and our cousins – have grown up, gotten married and had children of our own. And she’s treated our children as wonderfully as she treated us. There is no doubt in our minds that we are loved. Totally, completely, unconditionally loved. There is nothing that we could ever do to diminish that love. In her eyes, we are all saints. And in our eyes, she is the saint.

She had her first heart attack less than a week before her 50th wedding anniversary. A couple of stents and a week later and she was out on the dance floor with Grandpa looking as beautiful and radiant as ever. We all feared we’d lose her when Grandpa died of a stroke a few years later – after all, they were still madly in love. She mourned his death and moved on, again surrounding herself with children. She needed the great grandkids, just as they needed her. She’s convinced that when she has no one to take care of, she’ll die. She’ll have nothing left to live for if she’s got no one to nurture and love. Sadly, I believe her.

She is getting older, a little more hard of hearing, a little more frail, and I fear that time is running out for us. She’s an awfully healthy 89 year-old; she still lives at home and takes care of my cousin’s young daughters. She’s got a few health issues, but nothing like I’ve seen in other people her age. But I’m a realist, and I’ve worked in medicine a long time, I know that every day we have with her is a gift, a gift that won’t last forever. I dread the reality of her death, not just because I would lose her, but because, selfishly, I don’t want my grandchildren to grow up without ever knowing the unconditional love and affection she so easily dishes out.


Finding Pam said...

I love, love this beautiful post about your grandmother. She is amazing in her capacity to give so much of herself to so many folks.

My grandmother raised me a lot of my life and I loved her more than anyone else.

They don't make women like our grandmother's anymore. You are so blessed with a loving and supportive grandmother and family.

Thank you for sharing your grandmother with us.

Mr. Daddy said...

Great post and tribute to your Grandma.

Soak up all you can, cause memories are nice but don't really suffice...

I miss my Grandparents daily.

Mrs Mom said...

Diva, this is beautiful.

And when you get done jet setting, you go and hug Gramma Mary from me please. You know why.

xoxo to you girl

Grandma Ruby said...

I just love this wonderful ode and I hope you don't mind I shared it on my twitter account -
Grandma Ruby

Anonymous said...

it's Ashinator. I'm crying so hard. I love Grandma so much, I'm so sad that my kids will never know the woman that she was, and will never know the woman that stood next to you and raised me into the woman I am and will be. Reading this makes me want to always be with Grandma. I don't want to miss anything. I love her so much,
She's my hero. She's my inspiration.
Like you said mama, she's THE saint.

Love, Ash

Candance said...

What a beautiful post! You and your kids are super lucky to have her! Makes me miss my own granny.