May 23, 2011


I feel like I've been saying painful "goodbyes" to my Grammy for the past several years. Dementia (Alzheimer's?) is a cruel beast. But yesterday, with family and friends, I said a much-less painful goodbye as we all celebrated the wonder that was my Grammy...


If I had photographs in my hands of some of the memories in my head, these are the pictures I’d have of Grammy:

Sharing my bedroom with her whenever she visited; listening to late night stories of the “Get-Hot-Stay-Hot Girls” and their adventures on Catalina Island.

Collecting shells on the beach and collecting the prettiest rocks from the River to add to our “rock garden” behind the wash house.

Going out on the boat waterskiing in the morning & evening with Papa as the driver/instructor and Grammy as the cheerleader/flag-holder.

Swinging from the dock ramp in the River to cool herself off, before heading back to her homemade mesh deck chair in the shade with crazy flies everywhere, drinking beer in a can surrounded by styrofome insulation, talking and laughing with everyone, playing backgammon.

Sleeping under the beautiful quilt that Grammy made me from scraps of material she’d saved from all the clothing she sewed for me over the years.

Hair blowing everywhere as we drive back from Havasu in the Hornet with the windows rolled down (y’know, A/C against those 100+ degree days) and the coolers filled with food we’d bargain shopped & couponed for from 3 different stores.

Making dozens of batches of chocolate chip cookies with her, and still not being able to duplicate exactly the same yummy taste. Everyone always accused her of holding back a secret ingredient. I think it was just her love.

Watching Wheel of Fortune each night, always trying to beat her to solving the puzzle, which was, of course, nearly impossible. Grammy was a gaming, puzzling fiend. Agonizing & whining while tv wasted time with contestants spending their winnings on such treasures as the ceramic Dalmatian.

Getting up early to clean trailers in the cool of the day (y’know 98* instead of 112*). Hanging the sheets to dry on the line, knowing it wouldn’t take too long, and dreading putting back together those horrid bunkbeds.

Watching Grammy suck-up ceiling spiders and their ever-present webs with her hand-held vacuum.

Eating homemade cherry pie while calling Mom and saying “Mmmmm…..” So cruel.

Walking to Macs Market in the evening, knowing Grammy would probably spring for a popsicle.

Lingering over the breakfast table. Picking a coffee mug from the wall rack. Knowing someone in the park would always drop by and grab a mug and join us for a while. Grammy’s hospitality knew no bounds.

Playing cards morning, noon & late night. All manner of cards: Fish, Kings in the Corner, Gin Rummy, Rummy 500, Garbage, Spite and Malice, Hearts, Spades, Canasta … Knowing I would likely lose. Being careful NOT to sit in front of the mirror or the reflective window. Not that Grammy would cheat, mind you. But DJ might. ;-)

Crafts, crafts and more crafts. (which is funny, because I don’t really like crafts now. But I surely loved them then). Cross stitching, fancy yarn hangers, yarn potholders & placemats, hook rugs, yarn chairs (we went thru a LOT of yarn …), painted t-shirts…

Bingo over at B&B. In the days before they cracked down on minors “gambling”. Oh, those penny stakes …

Papa daily making Xerox copies of the crossword puzzles, because he and Grammy both needed their own.

Food. Always the FOOD. Food to feed armies. Spaghetti, chicken tortilla casserole, lasagna, enchiladas, green salad with Papa’s special dressing, cherry pie, jello-poke cakes, orange rolls …

Grammy always present for all the biggie events: all the graduations, weddings, great-grandbabies’ arrivals… Gosh, I feel like an era's come to an end. I miss her.

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Becky said...

Wouldn't every girl or boy for that matter want a Grammy like that. Sounds like she was an amazing person. I enjoyed reading those memories you have of her. Said a prayer for you!

Life with Kaishon said...

She sounds like an absolute joy. An absolute delight. Heaven is lucky to have her.

I miss both of mine very much. This was beautiful.

A Circle of Quiet said...

Goodbyes...sometimes they just seem to come hand over fist.

What a beautiful woman to call Grammy. So glad she was a significant part of your life.

So sorry for your loss.

p.s. See you SUNDAY!

Leslie said...

oh Susan.
Our whole long talk today.. and I didn't realize Im so sorry. This list.. this big long list of words.... is really beautiful.. and I think your whole not doing words.. should be gone... you are good with words..

I must say you painted the sweetest of pictures of her, and if the picture you painted is accurate I find a lot of you in her... you card playing, servant minded, water loving, hostess... seriously.... It must have rubbed off. (minus the crafts)...

lucky lady to have such sweet memories...

so sorry to hear about the close of that lovely season with her.

loosing people is hard.
so hard.

Anita Johnson said...

What dementia had taken from her, your post brought back for us to share. Some of our treasured memories of our family are the same...the games, the quilts and the food. I spent almost 2 weeks with my mom this month as she recovered from surgery (she is 84). It was a heartbreak to see the families that deal with dementia everytime they visit...some were just forgetful and sweet...some were not quite so easy. I'm so glad for your bright memories and so sorry for your loss.

Patty Ann said...

So sorry for your loss. I really hope that I can be a Grammy just like she was. Thank you for sharing her.

Tracy P. said...

Aw Susan, so sorry for your loss. I had no idea other people played Spite and Malice. I thought my own grandma made that one up because I never heard of it anywhere else! (Except that it's suspiciously like Skip-Bo without the purchase of special cards.) Such a beautiful tribute here. Wish you had a photo for each of those memories.

Mimi said...

What a beautiful post. And once again thank you for your inspiration. My grandma has Dementia(Alzheimer) as well. It has been devastating to watch her deteriorate. Thank you for inspiring me to write down those memories.

Kim @ Starry Sky Ranch said...

I lost my Gram the year before last. She essentially raised me and we remained close to the end which was mercifully very late in her life. I have such dear, fond memories of her. I am so sorry to hear of your Grammy's death but you have inspired me to get moving on collecting our memories.

It IS like the end of an era isn't it? So many strange new feelings at this stage of life.