Almost two months ago, July 26, 2010, my Grandma passed away. The weeks following her death were filled with booking plane tickets and traveling to Southern California for her funeral and memorial service. It was a bittersweet time. It was the first time since my Grandpa’s funeral that the entire family was together. So, for that it was nice. Since returning I’ve been busy with work and supporting my mom while she and her sisters cleaned out the house they grew up in.
It wasn’t until two nights ago, as I was trying to get to sleep that it really hit me. My Grandma is dead. I know, that probably sounds harsh but it really just hit me fully and completely.
When my Mom and Aunts were cleaning out the house to prepare it to sell they gave everyone the opportunity to select items that they wanted to keep. I have so many memories from that house that I had to be careful. I remember drinking apple juice and 7-Up from Grandma’s champagne flutes — but I don’t drink champagne so I don’t really have a need for champagne flutes. I remember the great fun we had as children making card trains around the entire house — but I don’t really need 10 more decks of cards to remind me of those memories. I remember the great pride my Grandma had for her involvement in the city K-9 unit — but the autographed picture of “her” K-9 team won’t fit on any of my walls and, honestly, it doesn’t really “go” with my house. I remember the hot dishes she’d have warm on the stove for us after driving in for our visit — but I don’t need another set of dishes.
But, you know the one thing that my Grandma always said was how important memories are. And, my memories of the times and lessons taught by Grandma are more important that the dishes, or cards, or autographed pictures.
My memories of being six years old and watching the K-9 and talking police car at Grandma’s first dinner will never go away. The memory of helping Grandma the day of “her” dinner when I was 30 and seeing her, at 80, ability to organize a community dinner to raise funds for “her” K-9 program can’t be beat. I don’t have any THING to remind me of my graduation trip with Grandma from California to eastern Montana to visit family but I have the memories.
But, I do have a few things of hers. I have her china cabinet which was one of her first major new furniture purchases. It was the cabinet that sat in the “formal” dining room where we had all our family holiday meals. It was the cabinet that she stored her pictures and other important papers and where she kept special dishes. It’s going to go in my dining room and will store my great-grandma’s crystal luncheon set and some other items that are special to me.
I also received an ocean picture that was painted by my great-grandma’s sister-in-law. Grandma gave me this when I told her about buying my house because she wanted me to have something of hers to decorate my new home with. I will also receive the picture that hung next to the china cabinet for as long as I can remember.
I will also be getting the wrapping paper that almost all my birthday presents for as long as I can remember were wrapped in. I was surprised that she still had it, but excited to get it. I’m also getting a couple pairs of shoes that were hers. Both are about 40+ years old, but I remember sitting on Grandma’s bed with her one visit and she told me about the red pair and how they were so expensive when she bought them (about $30) but that she loved them. (I also happen to like them and can’t wait to wear them.)
But, the important things I’m getting won’t sit in my house and I won’t be able to wear them. What I really received from my Grandma is her legacy. Her strength as a woman and her drive to make things happen. Her great love of her community and her desire to help others. Her dedication to her family and the importance of memories and traditions.
What hit me two nights ago, though, is how much I’ll miss her. The past few years her hearing has been bad and she’s tired so easily and with me living so far away I didn’t get to see or talk to her that much. But, still she was there. But it hit me, she’s not there anymore and I miss her.
But, yes, I have the memories.