Today is February 1st. A new day, a new month, a new era for me and my family. Yesterday we lost my grandmother. The last of my grandparents, and the one who had the biggest impact on my life. She was an amazing 97…. would have been 98 in July! She lived alone until last year when she became ill and discovered she had lung cancer. She drove, longer than she should have, she liked to swim at the community pool a few times a week until just a few years ago. She read her devotionals and prayed every morning, exercised every day, and took mandatory “breaks” twice a day. I always laughed at her “breaks” because really what was she taking a break from?? But she set an example of taking 15 minutes twice a day to just sit and have a cup of coffee and maybe a little snack and just rest. And while my grandpa was alive they took their “breaks” together.
Grandma lived a long and full life with her husband and 5 children. She was married to my grandpa for over 50 years and then went on to live without him for over 24 years. She had been through so many really difficult things from the time she was just a small child. Personal things that she didn’t like to talk about and wouldn’t want published. She pressed on through life doing the best she knew how at the time. She was proud of her 5 children and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.
She had lots of experiences, lots of opinions, and lots of energy. She would make us all roll our eyes with the crazy things she would say… and she would laugh with us at the crazy things we did. I remember her treasuring every little thing I ever made, every flower (weed) I ever gave her… just don’t interrupt when she was watching her programs! (Soap operas :)) I remember her studying to pass her certification to teach aerobics when she was in her 50’s. She encouraged us all to be active, to dance a lot, and she fussed if she thought we were getting fat. She loved to dance and swim and do low impact aerobics. She taught aerobics well into her 70’s, maybe even substitute taught into her 80’s. She was proud to show me (when she was 87) that she could still lay on her back on the floor and put her legs over her head, touching her toes to the ground. She had had a hip replacement by then, so as a PT I was not thrilled with her demonstration of flexibility!
My grandma and I had a close relationship for all of my life until the last few years when phone calls were infrequent because she just couldn’t hear very well. But when we saw her a few months ago, even with her confusion and illness, she recognized me. She remembered my husband and asked about each of our children by name. She was ornery, and I’m afraid she gave my uncle a really hard time about moving her into assisted living. But she was well cared for and she new we all loved her.
She was always giving me advice, whether I wanted it or not. lol But in facing her final days I found myself wanting to recall every thing she ever said, crazy or not. Because from this day on, she won’t say it again. She won’t be here to fuss at me or hug me or ask about my family. From this day on, we have to do life without her. So I want to list a few things she said to me over and over. Advice I didn’t always want to hear… but she gave it anyway.
*People make their own hell, you have to focus your mind on the good stuff.
*You need to slow down and enjoy life a little…
*Just keep active and make sure you don’t get fat!
*It’s your job to keep your relationship interesting and your husband “satisfied” at home. (picture eye roll here)
*And by the way, they never get too old. (Oh Lord, she said that once with my grandpa in the room and he was so embarrassed!)
*Your children will always be your kids, no matter how old they get.
*I just turn on my music and dance a little every morning! It’s good for ya!
Yes it is grandma. And yes, I have to admit your advice was pretty good. I hope you are once again dancing with your love and enjoying the other side.