Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Grandmother

In July my family lost a great lady, my grandmother, or Grammie, as my brother and I always called her. It still feels unreal that she is no longer here. She's always been there, a quiet, dignified, and very loving grandmother. We all miss her.

Grammie had two great loves in her life. Her first true love was my grandfather. They were married almost 50 years when he died.

Grampie carried this picture with him during the war.

She told me once how he requested a song for her when they were dating, "You Are My Sunshine". I think of the two of them whenever I hear it. They had a deep love for each other, one that endured after death.

Her other great love was her son, my father.

They were a great team, enjoying Saturday shopping and lunch together every week. He promised Grampie that he would take care of Grammie and he faithfully kept that promise until the very end. He visited her everyday at the hospital after her stroke in June, reading to her from the Bible, and, sometimes, just sitting and holding her hand. I'm sure there was no greater comfort to her in those last days than knowing he was there for her.

Grammie led a very full and active life. As a girl she play hockey and baseball. Throughout adulthood she played tennis and biked. She enjoyed card games and puzzles. She played the piano, something she picked up again in her 80s when she purchased a keyboard. She stayed in her own home until she was 81 and still mowed the law and shovelled the driveway. She was always a busy lady, learning new skills like painting and making felted wool slippers very recently.

My grandparents travelled all the time. They made twice yearly trips across Canada to visit our family. They travelled to the Bahamas one year and made the journey across the Atlantic Ocean to the Netherlands to visit friends my grandfather made during the war. She also spent many accompanying my grandfather hauling for the Sabian Cymbal Company throughout the United States.

When she wasn't travelling, Grammie enjoyed spending time at the lake cottage she and my grandfather built early in their marriage.

I have wonderful memories of summer nights in the antique spool bed in her guest room, listening to the sound of loons in the distance or slamming cottage doors. I remember the smell and taste of cucumbers in white vinegar, fighting off black flies and mosquitoes at the picnic table in the backyard, and icy cold dips in the lake. There was always family around.

She enjoyed close relationships with each of her sisters and their families, and they remained a big part of her life.

My grandmother was blessed with incredible patience, something I struggle with constantly, and wish I'd inherited. She visited one time and was able to sit quietly for more than 2 hours while I finished my work. I was concerned that she was bored but she assured me she was quite content. After all, she'd had many years of practice waiting for my very social grandfather to finish visiting.

I spent a lot of time with Grammie as a young child, during which she shared her love of arts and crafts. She made many quilts and afghans, two of which we use nearly everyday for snuggling on the couch. She taught me to knit at age 4 and we spent many hours making crafts and sharing different ideas. While my hoarding of craft supplies and the many half-finished projects around the house surely drives me husband to distraction, he should know that crafting is in my blood. I'm proud to share what I've learned with my own daughter.

In 2003, Grammie left her home in New Brunswick and moved across Canada to southeast British Columbia to be close to my dad. She was embraced by the community and kept pretty busy playing cards. When she turned 89 this past year it was a great party. She was celebrated by family and friends alike and especially enjoyed hearing the bagpipes that day. I had know idea how well loved and respected Grammie was in the community until my family attended the dedication service for her new church. She was practically a celebrity. Everyone wanted to talk to her. She was blessed with many wonderful friends.

My family's last visit with Grammie was in June. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of that weekend. She'd been hospitalized several times in May and decided to travel for a visit when she was well. I have such great memories of that visit. She was so excited to show us her apartment and the different crafts she'd completed and was working on. She was her vibrant and feisty self. We are so grate we made that journey as she had a devastating stroke just a few days later.

My grandmother loved God. She prayed everyday and read the Bible and devotions every morning. I'm sure she's in heaven right now, in the Lord's embrace, reveling in his presence. She deserves to be in heaven and, while we grieve her absence here on Earth, we know that she is content, reunited with her beloved husband and the other family and friends she's lost over the years. I also believe that she is waiting with her trademark patience for us to join her there one day.


calicodaisy said...

Sweet, sweet memories and a lovely tribute to your grandmother! I was as close with my grandmother. She was there when I took my first breath, andn I was with her when she took her last. I am so thankful to have had her in my life, and your post brings back those special feelings. -- michele

MJ said...

What a loving tribute to your grandmother. She lived a life well-lived and was surround by love.

All my heartfelt sympathies are sent to you and your family.