Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy Birthday to a Great Lady

Yesterday passed quietly.  Just before bedtime I realized it would have been my Grandmother's 101st birthday.  She's been gone a year now, but I think of her often and her wonderful example of unrelenting cheerfulness.  She led a hard life, chock full of sweat and ever-present work, yet she always managed to find the humor and good in everything.  And the fun.  Always the fun.

 Grandma in Disneyland's ToonTown.  See the brace?  That's her BOWLING HAND...

She was actually a very funny person - not always intentionally so - but she was the first person to have a good laugh at her own expense.  My own personal favorite story was when she seriously expressed her desire to go to "Mother Fudrucker's" for lunch.  I know I've told that story before, but it always makes me laugh.  I'm not actually sure if she knew how funny that was - I know I wasn't going to tell her.

Grandma and Katie in Hawaii for Katie's graduation from BYU Hawaii.  She was 92.

Wheelchair dancing with Scott at his wedding in 2010 - 99 years old

It's been a hard year of missing her and grieving for her - mostly for my aunt, who was her caregiver.  She's still having a hard time finding an identity for herself, now that her caregiver roll has been stripped from her.  But ever so slowly, I see signs of progress.  Her famous sense of humor is making itself known more and more often.  She seems to be taking more of an interest in life.  Oh sure, there are bad days where she really takes a slide backwards, but I think it's getting better.  And most days, I think she likes where she is, and the good people who surround her are becoming her friends.  While caring for my grandmother, she completely neglected herself, and at almost 80 years old, that has taken a toll.  She is still baffled by her loss of strength and by the things she can - for now - no longer do.  But she's trying to do the work with her doctors and a physical therapist to regain some strength and more independence - probably mostly so I'll quit bossing her around.  (One of my less attractive faults)

But back to Grandma.  We all miss her greatly.  She was the glue that united our family, and we're having to come up with that recipe now ourselves.  But I think she'd be proud.  I've been in contact with cousins more this past year than in my whole adult life.  Before, we depended on her for updates on everyone's lives.  Now we have to seek them out ourselves, and it's been fun to reestablish contact, through things like Facebook (a wonderful tool!)  One night, just after my aunt took her latest and greatest spill while out walking, L and I pulled up to where she lives at the exact same time that my cousin Jeff did.  It was such a treat to be able to share the visit with him!  I miss those little boys I used to play with, and it's wonderful to again be able to share adventures with them now and then.

I felt a little guilty about forgetting Grandma's birthday until the 11th hour yesterday.  But then I realized: she doesn't need us to throw her a party anymore.  Where she is, she had the best possible celebration.  By her own choice, she couldn't have had more favorite party guests than her husband, her parents, her two brothers, and her 7 sisters.  Everyone together in one room and in the same dimension.  Family gatherings when I was a child are some of my favorite memories.  Everyone told funny stories on each other, and there was a lot of laughing until we cried.  We BBQ'd and had a Hawaiian Punch/7Up mix ladeled up in a special huge roasting pan that I never saw used for anything but that punch.  On hot days, we'd sit outside and eat and talk.  We'd shoo away pesky flies, and a big fan would be blowing both inside and outside.  Those were the days.  So I can only imagine the celebration yesterday with everyone there.  It must have rocked the house.

Happy Birthday Grandma... till we meet again.

12 comments:

  1. What a beautiful tribute! To both Grandma and Aunt.

    Funny how Grandma's ARE the glue that holds everyone together. I think for now, my aunts are but what about when they are gone?

    Maybe now that I'M the grandma, I become the glue? Hmmmmmm......

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your grandma was an exceptional woman, karen. Your stories and these pictures of her reveal that she retained a zest for life even as she approached the century mark. Her loss has surely left a painful void in your life, in your aunt's and in the lives of all members of the family. Nevertheless, your gramdma lived a long, full life and was loved by many and that is reason to celebrate. It was fortuitous of you to remember your grandmother's 101st birthday at the 11th hour, but you know she would have forgiven you had you forgotten. She would have reminded you, your aunt and the others that you still have a lotta livin' to do and that your main focus now should be on that daily endeavor. It's been decades since I drank Hawaiian Punch mixed with 7Up and I do believe it was my own grandmother who first introduced me to each of those beverages separately and in combination. Blessings to you and your family, dear friend karen!

    ReplyDelete
  3. How sweet and how Grand she obviously was. She was lovely and knew that PINK was her color, didn't she? She had a life well-lived which is what we all long for.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Your Grandmother sounds like a real charmer. I can just tell by the sparkle in her smile that she was the life of the party wherever she went. Lovely tribute.

    ReplyDelete
  5. She was a beautiful lady..and from your tribute she sounds like the beauty was both inside and out. How nice to have lived a rich life and to be missed and loved by so many for so long. It's funny how family dynamics change with the loss of loved ones. It's also hard to have to be the real grownup when that happens! It's nice to have such wonderful memories. I always hope my Grandkiddos will have good ones of us! I also wanted to say that I think Katie looks so much like you! So pretty!

    ReplyDelete
  6. This was beautiful, Karen. What a gift in your life and your family's life forever. And only separated temporarily, my friend.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Lovely, lovely, lovely! A glorious tribute, to be sure. I would have so enjoyed knowing your grandma.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh Karen...you brought tears to my eyes. How wonderful you Grandma was. We all need someone like her in our lives. I understand about connecting with your cousins. After my Aunt died, the last remaining relative of that generation for me, I 'found' my cousins on FB and we are having a great time remaining connected.

    Lovely post, dear one, lovely post!
    Hugs~

    ReplyDelete
  9. I loved hearing more about your grandma. What a neat lady!

    And I think you're right about her birthday celebration.

    =)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Glad you shared this about your grandma -- it brings to my mind how important it is to be a good person to all.. I hope I have grand kids who will think of me in such a sweet way - I hope they will always remember my hugs and kisses..too!
    Thanks for sharing..
    Hugs..

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wish I could see what those family gatherings were like when you were a kid. And LOVE the nana "Mother Fudrucker's" story! I think I've heard it before, but it is always just as funny each time I think of it!

    ReplyDelete
  12. It's great that you mention the punch, because food and family celebrations are the way I bring the memory of my grandma back into focus. If I make her potato salad, it's as if she's in the other room, or even in the same room. It's strange how I can conjure my lost loves through the tastes we've shared. My father was a gardener, and when I taste the first green bean in my garden, he lives for me again. Tastes and smells bring my memories closer than pictures. Your grandma sounds like the kind of woman that everyone loved.

    ReplyDelete

Sit down, have some red punch and cookies, and tell me EVERYTHING...

FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed