It has been almost a year since my grandma passed away, and I still miss her every day. She came into my life in an unexpected way, and she touched many lives, including those of my children. My son, who is almost seven, has been asking a lot of questions about her recently and tells me often that he wishes she was still here. I feel bad for him because I am sometimes at a loss for words as to what to tell him as I am still grieving the loss of her as well.
I say she came into my life unexpectedly because she is not a blood relative. (Ok, so none of my family is since I was adopted, but that is another topic for another day.) I met Grandma and Grandpa K while my mom was dating my stepdad when I was nine. Grandma told me to call her “Grandma” the first day I met her, and she took me to the county fair the next day. From the first day I had met them, I was immediately brought into the family as if I had always been there. It was just their way. It didn’t matter how you came into the family, you were one of them. Grandma was someone who I could talk to, someone who loved me unconditionally and didn’t say anything even when I did things that had everyone else scratching their heads, someone who made me feel special.
Grandpa sometimes came off as grouchy and hard to get to know, but I will always be glad that I made the effort because he was one of the most interesting people I have met. He was one of the few family members I ever felt comfortable talking about politics to. I could also play jokes on him from time to time, and he was a good sport. He also loved to talk about soap operas. He watched them every day and would talk about them as if they were real. I took my first combine ride with him which was a big deal for me. He passed away almost five years ago, and I still miss him.
I think deep down there was a part of me that secretly thought that they would live forever. When Grandpa died, it was hard to accept that he would no longer be there. My son remembers him vaguely. He mostly remembers stories about how Grandpa let him play with his cane which was quite uncharacteristic of Grandpa. I remember how hard it was for me to come home for the holidays that year. It just did not feel right, but life went on, and we all adjusted.
In the years that followed, I realized that eventually my Grandma would not be around forever. During the last year of her life, I made a special effort to have my children visit their grandparents for extended visits so they could spend time with my parents, and both of my grandmas. Grandma K would tell me how happy it made her to be able to see the kids. It made me happy that my kids could spend time with her.
The last time I spoke to her was about a week before she died. Somehow, I think she knew just from the conversation we had that day. The days that followed her death were a blur. My daughter did not quite understand what was going on, and my son was sad. I did not know how to make it better as I was sad myself. With her death came so many changes. Our family traditions immediately changed. It is still a little hard to accept at times. I was at home for Easter, and it just did not feel like a holiday because it was the first holiday at home that did not include a trip to Grandma’s to spend the holiday with her and the family.
Since then, the kids have been talking about her a lot, especially my son. I still do not know what to say to him. I still cry sometimes when I talk about her. When he cries, I wish I could make the hurt go away. I can’t. What I can do is hug him and let him cry.
As I get older, I realize that we need to love our friends and family every day. I still have one grandma who is alive, and I want to make more of an effort to call and let her know how much I love her. Family is important to me. They are not perfect. Neither am I. We have all said and done things to each other that have hurt, but I love them just the same. While I am still grieving the loss of a Grandma so dear, I am thankful for her and her big heart. She is someone I want to be like. I just hope that when I am a grandmother, I can do half as good of a job as she did.