Wednesday, March 19, 2014

March 19, 1909

105 years ago today my maternal grandmother was born.

Miss S's namesake.

She was a phenomenal woman with a quiet strength.

She was practical, loving, generous, faithful, and prayerful.

She was the family matriarch.

I never took our relationship for granted because I didn't want to have regrets that I didn't see her or talk to her often enough. (I wanted to fully cherish the relationship that I had with her, which was innocent and pure in the fact that I was her youngest grandchild and saw her through rose-colored glasses.) When I went away to college, I moved to the Northwest so that I could spend breaks with my grandma, my aunt and uncle, and my cousins. I visited her by train on fall break, and we went to the library together so that I could research Rajneeshpuram for a research paper. She rode the train up for my college graduation (at age 90). I called her often - to say hi, to ask her advice, and to be comforted.

I remember big and little things - she wasn't a fan of anything grape flavored or the color purple; she always wore skirts; she helped me to memorize the Apostles Creed when I was in confirmation class; she never wore makeup; Dove soap helped her to have the most amazing skin; she devoured books (even books that I gave her to read - which might have been outside of her politics - but she read them because I gave them to her and asked her viewpoint;) she loved my dad's margaritas.

I remember that she peeled apple slices for me (because that's how I liked them) and told me not to tell people to "shut up" (when she heard me say it to someone else).

Wedding Day
She was truly the first "nurse" that I saw in action. While she was a teacher throughout her career, my grandfather had bladder cancer the year before I was born. For the last 13 years of his life, my grandma cared for his urostomy site, and I remember watching her change out the pouch & wafer on more than one occasion. It was fascinating. It just took me a good 20+ more years to realize that I wanted to be a nurse. I remember telling her that I was going to switch careers; she thought that I would make a great nurse.

Even at age 95, she got down on her knees to pray at her bedside.

I knew that she prayed for me every day.

Over the last few months I've had patients who have reminded me of her. One patient had hands like my grandma's. Another patient could have been a long-lost brother; every time I looked at his eyes and nose, I felt like I was seeing my grandma.

I was so blessed to have her as my grandma and to live closer to her in the last 14 years of her life.
If she would have had it her way, she would have passed away a few months earlier than in January of 2008. Her friends had all passed away, and she thought it was her time.

Since she held on to life, my grandma was able to meet Karl. It's a memory that I'll never forget. Karl and I flew to visit her as everyone expected the end was near. As we arrived at the airport, we were told to be as quick as possible because they thought she was going to pass away that day.

Karl and I arrived, and I crawled up onto her bed and held her hand. Over the next 30 minutes, she perked up and wanted Karl to come in so that she could talk with us.

Prior to that visit, Karl wasn't sold on naming a future daughter after my grandma.

After that visit, there wasn't any question.

Grandma - I love you. I miss you. I miss our weekly talks on the phone. I hope that I'm making you proud.

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