my grandma is in hospice and is not expected to live much longer. i’ve been thinking about her a lot. and about losing family, especially that generation. i’ve been grandparent wealthy my whole life – one of the benefits of divorce (they should put that in the brochure!). all 3 of my grandfathers are gone now. i would not say that i’m ready to start losing my grandmothers.
the nursing home in brown’s valley minnesota is very close to where she lived on a farm with leo, her husband (until his death 36 years ago), and her 7 children (my dad was the only boy). at some point, she moved to a larger town to teach special education.
for all of my life, she was not the easiest person to know. she has always been a kind of enigma to her grandchildren, not the warm and cuddly cookie baking grandmother, but one who kept herself a little closed off. maybe it was because her husband died when she was very young or because she worked outside of the home when most women didn’t. for whatever reason, i’m sad thinking about what little i know about her beyond her history. except that i know this: she loved to dance. i wish i would have gone dancing with her one time. i suspect that i would have learned a lot about what she thought and about how she felt about the world. and how she felt about me.
her 81st birthday is monday and this is the card i am mailing today. it is sucky. what do you say? how do you say goodbye?
i’ve been thinking about you and wanted to wish you a happy birthday and to let you know that i am so grateful to you for the example that you’ve given us all about how to enjoy life and love the people around you; maybe not in the expected grandmotherly way, but in a way that was your own. in a way that taught us independence, respect and strength.
i have such good memories of sitting around the kitchen table at your house at christmas, listening to stories and watching you get dolled up to go out dancing with bert and emil. i love that one of the biggest adventures of my life – traveling to korea – was shared with you. i love that you embraced new things and adventure. you helped to show me the value of things that some people overlook like the small diners that you discovered on your drives and, just this summer, you introduced me to some of the best pie i’ve ever eaten in a town i would have just driven through.
i have always thought that i take after you in a lot of ways, especially my stubbornness, my ability to show that i am a tough and strong woman, my love of adventure and my sense of humor. i hope i pass all of those things on to jasper.
thank you. i love you always.