Ten Things of Thankful: The Grandma Edition
I am thankful for Grandma, the only grandparent I really got to know, for hanging around for ninety-four years, and for forming my definition of ‘grandparent’ with nothing but good memories and love.
I am thankful you were the first person I introduced ‘the guy I just had dinner with’ to. You were in bed, your teeth were out, and you didn’t care. You were happy to be involved in my life. A few days later, you deemed him ‘a nice boy’ – you were right. I am thankful you were able to be at my wedding. I’m thankful for the gift you gave me at my bridal shower: beautiful embroidered pillowcases that your mother made. You told me she would have wanted me to have them, and to be sure I used them. (I will never use them.) I’m thankful for you letting me have the watch your parents gave you for your eighth grade graduation, and I’m thankful for the look you had in your eyes when you realized that was the honored piece of jewelry I wore on my wedding day. As much as you couldn’t “imagine why (I) want that old thing,” it meant so much to me. It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t work anymore, I can’t tell time anyway. And I’m thankful you shake your head every time I say that to you, because it means you don’t think I’m possibly that dumb. I am, but it’s nice you find it hard to believe, anyway.
I am thankful for the hours you spent reading to me before bed when I was little. For Little Women, Jo’s Boys, and always, always caving to me when I whined and cajoled for “just one more chapter.”
I am thankful for all of the cookies we baked together, the pies, the popcorn balls, the cheddar cheese biscuits, the custard, the corn meal mush, the cinnamon-sugar pinwheels from scraps of leftover pie dough, and especially the raspberry turnovers. I am thankful for all the Thanksgivings and Easters I spent with you in the kitchen, always working, always proud of what you were able to do.
I am thankful for your snarky, incredibly insincere “sorry” which will never, ever be forgotten in my home. For the way you would predictably shake your head and cluck every time I’d make an asshole move and send you back to Start, rather than advancing, and how you made me feel close to the grandfather I never got to know when you’d say, “you’re just like Grandpa. If he could go forward ten or back one, he’d go back one just to spite you.” For your dumb joke anytime I asked you to play Monopoly, “unless it’s a whole crowd, it goes on forever. It’s not Monopoly, it’s monotony.”
I am thankful for you trying to allay my fears when I was a child. “Everybody dies,” you’d say. For making me have a pragmatic view of the world, and for instilling in me that my time with you is finite (and precious).
I am thankful for the way you never complained about your situation, but talked about it matter-of-factly. You didn’t mean for it to happen, but the way I view the world as an adult has much to do with how you’ve lived your life.
I am thankful for your many colorful turns of phrase, “my mouth tastes like the backside of a barn door,” “falls into a shithole and comes out wearing a fur coat,” and “Christ Almighty, what now?” being some of them.
I am thankful that you put up with my bullshit when I was in college, suffering from mono, and working the late shift. I’d call you at 11:30 at night, and you’d answer the phone, teeth out, sound asleep, sounding like a deranged owl. “Hullo? Hullo?!” “Hi, Grandma. I was just calling to say ‘I love you.’” Your voice would immediately soften, and I could hear you smiling. “Oh, hello dear, I love you too.”
I am thankful for the time you broke your ankle when you were 75, and allowed me to be your nurse. I wrapped your ankle every day. I bathed your foot every day. That realization finally hit me a couple days ago, and I laughed as I sat on your bed and said, “Grandma, what the hell were you thinking, letting a nine year old wrap your broken ankle every day?” “Well,” you said, “you were a smart cookie. You knew what you were doing. I trusted you.” My god, Grandma. Do you even realize how powerful that is? I am thankful for the things you said to me when Husband and I visited you over Memorial Day weekend, and I was helping you into bed one night: “You ought to do this for a living, you know.” “Do what?” “This. Work in an old folks’ home. You’d be good at it.” “Hah. No I wouldn’t. I’m only good with people I like.” “No, you would. You have compassion.” I am thankful for the past three weeks I have spent at your house, helping to care for you. Even though it breaks my heart every minute, to see how much pain you’re in. I’m thankful for the rare moments you’re able to crack a wry smile when I joke with you. I’m thankful for the couple minutes you looked peaceful when I had you hooked up to Bose headphones and my iPod, while you listened to Anne of Green Gables, a book you once read to me, with technology loud enough and clear enough so you could understand the words. I’m even thankful for the truly awful Tuesday night we had, when you were confused, and in so much pain, you screamed at one point you wished Grandpa would find you and welcome you in death. I’ve known since I was little I was going to have to let you go at some point, and even though I don’t want to, I know it’s selfish to want to keep you here like this. I’m thankful for hating every minute of the day lately, knowing you’re getting ready to leave, because it means you have been an extraordinary grandmother. And I’m lucky you’re mine.
I’m thankful for you. I love you.