Today would have been my grandmother's 90th birthday. All day I thought something was bugging me, something that I couldn't put my finger on. I started a new job and it's pretty awesome, so I knew that wasn't it. I have a cold and am feeling tired so I thought that was it, but then I realized something when I started signing paperwork and looking in my calendar. For most of my life, today was always a celebrated day in our family. Granny wasn't a very good gift receiver. She'd always tell us that we shouldn't have bought her anything, or that what we bought was the wrong color or size or that she didn't need it altogether. Some things she secretly loved and she'd stow them away in her closet for a more important occasion. I remember one particular pink robe that she put in there, claiming that we could bury her in that one. How morbid and odd I thought; yet how completely pessimistic. That's the way she was. Not outwardly loving until I was grown and started expressing affection myself; this ability I owe to my husband because he taught me that it was okay to wrap my arms around another person and say I love you.
Granny lived a long and hard life; she had a troubled childhood with an overbearing and critical mother and they were all very poor too. Still, she grew up with an air of confidence about her. She was the salutatorian of her high school graduating class and always seemed to me to be very intelligent and a good problem solver. I'll never forget the day she told me not to ever hold my head so high that I felt better than anyone else, but to realize also that I was just as good as anyone else as long as I kept myself looking nice and clean. She maintained that she "put her pants on every morning just like the President of the United States did, and he was no better than her and she no better than him." This was the message to me over all the years: be humble and kind and open minded and always believe in yourself and what you can do in this world, and believe in others too.
In her last few years I didn't see her as much as I always had because I lived out of state, but each time I did see her she would hold my hand and remind me of how much she loved me, and on this night that is what I miss the most. The feeling of her small hands. Her long fingers wrapped around mine. I miss hearing how she loved me and I miss the stories she'd tell me. I miss the way I could kneel and put my head in her lap and feel for a moment completely okay.
When I was a little girl, I remember clinging to my grandmother's every move, following in her every footstep, listening to her stories told over and over again. I believed she was superhuman. As I grew I began to see that she was fallible and sometimes weak as people are. Her health declined rapidly after I turned twenty, and her body failed her mind.
She's been gone for nearly three years now but I still think she's somehow superhuman. Perhaps her spirit right now feels mine, ever following hers around in heart and in mind. Perhaps she is watching over me and my little girl, laughing at the way I'm attempting to raise her, thinking that I sound a lot like she did when she was trying to raise me. I would have loved to let her taste my rendition of the old fashioned tea cakes she used to make for me. I made a batch a couple of weeks ago, just to see if I could, and when they tasted so good, I made a hundred more. Anything to bring me closer. Closer to that time and place that swept through my life too quickly, but that holds its place in my memory and in my heart.
Happy Birthday Granny. I miss you!