The Things I Remember
My grandmother is my one remaining grandparent, and she is ready. Ready to go. She has been ready to go. She is not ill. She is 94. I don’t know when she will go, but in a weird way, to be on her side, I have to hope that maybe it’s soon.
My sister thought we should send her some memories we have of her so that she knows how we think about her. So that’s what I’m doing—I’m recording a life. A life that I have had the privilege to share.
Grammy, you are such a fascinating person. I know you aren’t perfect, but I hope that I grow up to be half as funny and interesting as you! I think you have lived such a long life because of your zest, your optimism, and your social life.
I think what will stay with me the longest is the memory of when I came and stayed with you two years ago. I was pregnant with Noah, and you kept laughing and laughing at the thought of me having two rambunctious, close-together sons like you had. You kept saying, “It’s going to be just like Bill and Pat! It’s going to be just like Bill and Pat!” Someone who did not know us would probably think that this was touching. But it was actually naughty, because my dad and Uncle Pat were holy terrors. I had never been alone with you much, and never as an adult. I had never heard your side of the story, your version of Grandpa, of your life in South America and Africa, of motherhood and being a wife. Now I have. And I wish I had known you when you were my age. I felt like we were having a sleepover. And I was pregnant, and you were aging, and so we took a lot of naps together.
I remember going to visit you and Grandpa in Mexico. I was fascinated by the people who lived in the town, by the Gamesa cookies sold there, and by the scorpion that crawled up the drain, and which Grandpa cut up into pieces to kill.
While we were there, your dog (I think it was Freckles, but it might have been Amigo) got at Mary, my toy bunny, and your neighbor stitched her up while we sat together on the patio. We had scallops for dinner, and they made you sick, and I was sad because I didn’t really get to say goodbye to you.
One time, when you came to visit us in Corral de Tierra, you started stroking me behind the ear, the way you did your dog. It felt so nice, and I got so sleepy, lying there in your lap. I think that was one of the times I felt closest to you.
When I was in elementary school, you gave me a Cabbage Patch Kid. Her name was Lucile Annabella. My sister was jealous, because she wanted a Cabbage Patch Kid too, and my parents said she was too old (they were aaaaall the rage then, even for junior highers). I still have good old Lucile Annabella at my parents’ house. She was well-loved.
I liked all the funny things you had in your house in Prescott. I loved your porch swing, and the table with the old-fashioned sewing machine pedal underneath it. I loved the Godey’s ladies pictures in your bathroom. But most of all, I loved playing with you when I visited. We would play cards, dominoes, you name it. You are a pretty serious game-player.
Speaking of which, my parents used to tell me about your gambling. You had some highly superstitious theories about how to select a slot machine, and one time you took everyone out to dinner after you won something like $500. I have to say, I suspect you are the genetic source of some family members’ (cough, Sarah) competitive streak.
When Sarah graduated from college, and I was sixteen, we all went out to dinner in Tucson. I forget where we went, but I think it was Mexican food. You explained to all the college gals that if you drink a drink through a straw, you will get drunk faster. I was shocked and I loved it. I love that you are and have always been a salty woman.
I know that you have never quite known what to do with young children, but I didn’t know that when I was a child. I was aware, however, once I became a teen, that you suddenly did know what to do with me, and you made me feel beautiful and grown up and special. I probably needed it.
I had never seen many pictures of you when you were young until I went to Grandpa’s memorial service. There was a picture of you there, and everyone said that I looked like you. It was kind of amazing, because I hadn’t known that before.
Everywhere you have gone, you have always been the social butterfly. I know the last years have been hard, but when I visited, everybody knew “G.G.” everywhere we went. Your sense of humor, your vivacity, your playfulness, and your ability to chat have kept you in the center of attention, and I believe they have been why you have been so healthy, so strong. You have stayed sharper than a tack, and I love that I can discuss theology with you or be honest about being a parent. You are so nice, so encouraging, so good to me. And again, I really don’t think you need fear going to heaven on the basis that only fundamentalist Christians will be there. I have full confidence that you will find some diversity, and that there will be a gambling corner for you and your many amigos to laugh and tell stories around.