My grandma died last week. It wasn't unexpected, as she had been steadily fading (due to dementia) for nearly a decade, to the point that she didn't know who anyone was anymore. So while part of me is a bit sad, it was also kind of a relief. I don't like remembering the shell of a person she was in the recent past, so this is what I'll remember....
My grandma was born in 1926, the youngest of twelve children. According to a story told by one of her older siblings, she was a 14 pound newborn, or rather, the scale only went up to 14 pounds, thus the reason she was the last child. After her father died when she was a teenager, she moved with her mother and sisters from the farm where she was born to the city where she lived in for the rest of her life.
When I was growing up, she lived right down the street. When I was a baby, she came to our house to stay with me so I didn't have to go out in the cold. After I was older, I stayed with her while my parents were at work and, according to my mother, she let me get away with murder (I suppose I was a bit of a hellion as a child).
Her backyard was filled with flowers. At one point, she had thirteen cats. She made amazing chicken casserole and sweet tea. She never learned to drive. When it was nice out, she spent the evenings on her porch swing. She always tried to make me eat breakfast, despite my having ridiculous morning sickness for most of my youth, and when she did convince me to eat breakfast, she would always make my requested bologna sandwich on toasted bread cut diagonally into four pieces instead of the bacon and eggs she would have rather I ate. She had an ancient set of encyclopedias that I read for fun and she told me lots of stories about growing up on the farm in the olden days, which helped make me the history nerd I am today. And once, after her mind was seemingly long gone, she looked at me with recognition and said, "I used to take care of you when you were a little girl," and smiled. It was nice to be remembered.
Thanks for the memories, Grandma. I'll miss you.