This morning I had a phone call come in at 6:45. Never a good sign, right? It was my dad. He left his usual ("urgent") cryptic message that he needed to talk to me and would call back in a few minutes. When I picked up my phone and listened to the voicemail message, my mind (and heart) immediately started to race, trying to figure out what could have happened, "who might have died", and then it hit me... My grandma, Helen. My father's mother. And before I even called my parents back to get the news, I knew that she was gone. And I was so... grateful. Grateful for the knowledge that I have that this life is not the end, grateful for the influence that she had on my life, and grateful - for her, and for our family - that her struggle here on Earth is over.
My sweet grandma was one of the happiest (and funniest) women that ever lived. She could tell a story like no one else I know, and when she laughed, her body would jiggle like a bowl full of jelly (just like Santa), with her silly tongue wagging around inside her (always open) laughing mouth. When I was little, she always (ALWAYS) had the pockets in her mu-mu stuffed with salt-water taffy, and every time we'd give her a hug and tell her that we loved her, we'd get a candy. (And, as you can imagine, she had to buy about 10 lbs of candy every time we'd come to town - sugar hounds that we were.) She laughed harder than most people would think is humanly possible, almost every day of her life. She could make up a recipe on the fly, and nothing (and I do mean NOTHING) the woman ever cooked turned out badly - she had the golden touch when it came to food. She was amazing, always. Even in the last years of her life, when she had a hard time remembering who we were and why we were visiting her, she was always glad to see us. The woman had a heart of gold - and I am one of the 10 luckiest kids in the world, because I got to have her for a grandma.
I'm the oldest child of the oldest child, so I was getting spoiled by her before anyone else was. I treasure memories of going camping and fishing (yes, in my youth I wasn't so adverse to dirt & worms) with Grandma & Grandpa. I love that Grandma gave me my first Milky Way candy bar. (She liked to eat them frozen, and when she found out that I'd never had one, she snuck a handful out of the freezer and we took them out and sat on the front porch and gnawed and giggled our way through them like a couple 6 year old girls.) I love that I have two paintings in my kitchen that she had in hers, and that I have recipes that came from her kitchen as well. I'm incredibly grateful for a weekend I was able to spend in her home the summer before her Dementia got so bad that she had to be moved - staying up with her, "having girl talk" until the wee hours of the morning, is a memory that I'll treasure for the rest of my life.
Needless to say, I'm super lucky to have known her, and I'll miss her like mad. I'm just so grateful that I know that families can be forever - that this life is not the end - and that I will see her again. Because without that knowledge, death would be truly tragic - and we all know that Grandma was not about the tragedies.