Today, November 24, 2013, would have been her 98th birthday. In fact, the last time I saw my grandmother conscious was on her 97th. We had a lot of traditions together and I can’t even begin to describe how strange it will feel keeping up with some of these without her. My grandma, Marie, the only grandmother I ever knew, was so special to me. She was in many ways, my second mom and I know for certain I thought of her as my best friend. I deem her responsible for teaching me how to be feminine. There was no formal instruction, but I looked onto her with reverence as she was the most graceful and lovely woman I had ever seen. I grew up with a brother, hung out with his friends, my best friend growing up was a tomboy, so was my actual mother. There was no one around to teach me to be a girl. Luckily, my parents worked 40 hours a week and in the summer months or on any holiday break, I got to spend it with Grandma. We developed quite the bond. I took after her in many ways. She encouraged me to be a performer, crafter and all-around good person. I took hula lessons with her since I was barely old enough to read. I glued seashells to costumes and shredded raffia for her Tahitian skirts. Sometimes I just loved to watch her. She knew I looked up to her. She gave me the best moments of my childhood even though she had so little.
As she got older, I took care of her. I took her shopping, drove her to the doctor, to pay her bills at the currency exchange and handled getting her prescriptions. I didn’t do this out of any sense of obligation. I did it because I wanted to. I loved spending time with her. I took her on vacations and drove her whereever she wanted to go. Michaels was one of our favorite places to spend an hour. Every year, I took her Christmas shopping and helped her pick things out for the whole family. This year, I’ll go to her favorite department store alone. I know she’d be happy to know I was keeping that tradition alive and getting a good deal too!
I saved all of her correspondence. I have hundreds of cards and letters from throughout the years. She asked to be buried with mine. This is the kind of bond we had. We’ll take it to the grave. I lost her on Valentine’s Day 2013. I’m sure I will hurt just as much as today when that day rolls around. I’ll try not to think about it and cross that bridge when it comes.
As I sit here writing this, I know she’d be proud of me. I have no regrets. I told her I loved her every time I hung up the phone or ended a letter. Every time I came to town, I made her priority number one. I miss our outings more than anything. Sometimes I have some good news to share or I’m feeling blue and I almost think I can call her. While that’s not possible, I know she’d be happy to know we were eating our turkey, sharing each other’s company and not being sad. She would want my family to go on and enjoy life. She had so much life in her until the end. She was the feistiest 97-year-old I had ever met! So, this Thanksgiving I am thankful for all the amazing memories and life lessons I got from “Grandma Grand.”
Be kind to each other, always remember to reach out to relatives and remind them of your love while you can. Life is so very short and fleeting. Things can change instantly. I’m grateful my life was touched by someone so beautiful for so long. I consider myself incredibly lucky.
Happy Birthday, Grandma Butterfly!