Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A lifetime of love.

My grandmother passed away today. It was sudden, and somewhat unexpected, in that I didn't think it would happen today.  Maybe this year, or next year, but not today.  Then again, one never expects these things to happen.  No day, is a good day to lose someone you love.  She died in the afternoon, after spending the day showering and getting ready to head out for her Cardiology appointment.  My grandfather was with her all day, helping her, until the moment she collapsed.  He says she was in no distress.  We all agreed that she would be happy to know that she was freshly cleaned and dressed and "not in her house coat" as grandpa put it.
My grandma never smiled for pictures.  Someone seeing her only in photographs might think her a grumpy old woman.  If they were to speak to her, they would see how deceiving a picture can be.  She loved her husband, her children, and especially, her great grandchildren more than anything in the world.  She loved our visits, holding the newest baby, and watching the boys play.  As a very young child, I couldn't wait to get to grandma's house.  Where there was a candy drawer, from which, we were allowed to free feed.  Generally, there was a good stock of Tang, those barrel shaped fruit-flavored drinks or off-brand sodas in the garage.  Also, free for the partaking.  She even invited a couple of us to spend the night every so often.  I remember going to a movie and having breakfast for dinner, thinking it was the greatest night ever!  I used to joke that there was no leaving Grandma's house hungry, but it wasn't a joke.  She always had plenty to offer us, and all but forced us to eat.

Christmas was her favorite holiday.  She had 3 trees...and her house was not big.  Now, reflecting on her life, and who she was, it makes perfect sense that the season of giving would be her favorite holiday.  Christmas Eve for us kids was as fruitful as Christmas morning, because of the number of gifts she would give.  Not only did she provide the grandkids with a trashbag full of fun, and sometimes even practical gifts, but I remember my dad always receiving his yearly supply of socks, under shirts, underwear and a nice sweater and pants.  She would just watch us open our gifts.  To her, the greatest gift was seeing our excitement, happiness and gratitude.  For years, I think until high school, we would receive a card on our birth, and in it was the same amount of cash, as age we were turning.  Without fail.  Through the years, this trailed off, but I still, sporadically, received a card on my birthday or Thanksgiving or Halloween from my Grandma and Grandpa Smith.  Just last week, she made sure to drop off a small, silver cup as a gift to Mitch, for his baptism.  All four of my boys have received this gift from her for their sacrament.
As an adult, I came to appreciate and admire my grandparents for their devotion.  Next month, on April 23rd, would have been their 65th wedding anniversary.  Amazing.  Simply beautiful.  The two of them raised 3 boys together.  The have a home, full of memories, walls filled with photos, every corner displays some item signifying a life together. I'm not sure what my grandpa will do.  He will no longer have his lifelong companion. "Mother" is not sitting next to him in her chair, with the TV volume up entirely too loud.  When I call, he will have to be the one to talk, and cannot immediately direct me to her.  I will miss that.  She was extremely sharp, nothing got by her. I was constantly amazed during our conversations at how up to date she kept with my life, my school, swimming, job, children.  Everything.  She could never express enough how proud she was of me, and my family.  She thought the world of my little boys.  In her mind, they were the most well-mannered, polite, well-behaved children she had ever met.  I'm glad she left before they gave her the opportunity to think otherwise.

I think she was very sick for a while.  I think her heart was failing.  But being the strong, matriarchal woman she was, she would not lead anyone to believe she was anything but well.  I think her worst fear would be to become a burden her family.  She was the caretaker.  The giver.  The mom.  As such, you best not cross her.  Even when all the cousins became adults, even when my parents became grandparents themselves, we all still made sure to keep the family farmhouse clean, for fear of what grandma might do to us if it were found unkempt.  She was a hard woman.  She lived through a lot.  She was 87.  She had polio as a child.  Polio!  That doesn't even exist now.  But as strict or serious as she ever seemed, the love shone through so much stronger. I sincerely doubt that I will ever come across a more selfless and devoted women, ever again, as my Grandma, Rosemary Smith.  She will be so very missed.  We lost an incredible, beautiful, amazing person today.  Goodbye, grandma.  We love you. 

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