Here's a quick bit of insight into the person I've grown up to be--I was the first grandchild born on both sides of my family. To say that I grew up feeling loved and spoiled is something of an understatement. For the most part, my grandparents felt (and rightly so) that I could do no wrong.
My first memories of my Grandmother were when my sister was born. I remember her coming to stay with us a few days while my mom brought home this new person who was my sister. I have a vague recollection of being at the airport, waiting for her at the gate and seeing her come up the long exit ramp from the plane. I think she brought me some kind of cool gift as well becuase, well, when Grandmother visited she always had something neat for us grandchildren.
My Grandmother was a great cook. I loved her apple pies. She made the best homemade apple pies in the world. That and her strawberry jaw. Man, I still miss those. Grandmother was diabetic and so she couldn't always have as much of the apple pie as she wanted, but she'd still make it for us. She's make one any time I'd come to visit and any time she'd come to my house. During her later years, she had a bad case of arthritis. But she'd still make those pies for me, peeling the apples and cooking them. I did find out that towards the end of her life, she'd fool me--she'd get a Mrs. Smith's pie, defrost it, take it out of their pie pan and put it in her dish and bake it for me. I found this out one day when I took the trash out and found the boxes in the trash. Luckily, I asked my mother what was up first before I asked Grandmother. I never told her I was on to her secret...it didn't really matter to me. The pies were great just becuase she'd made them for me.
I am not sure my grandmother ever learned how to drive a car. She was a military officer's wife and travelled the country and world with my grandfather. She told me a lot of great stories about their travels from Paraquay to Germany to living out in California. And a lot of places in between. I never recall her driving a car and I've asked my mom is she ever learned. We're not sure if she did or not. I do remember she'd ride to the beauty parlor every Friday with my Aunt Polly to get their hair done. Aunt Polly would come by and pick her up. I can still see my grandmother walking out the car, her purse in hand, off for a morning of getting her hair done.
Grandmother had an infectous laugh and a good sense of humor. After she and my grandfather gave up having a house and moved into a retirement community, I went down for a weekend to visit them. I remember flying on the plane by myself--I was between my junior and senior years of high school, but it still felt like a big deal. I remember I'd pretty much made up my mind to go to UT at this time, so Grandmother made Granddaddy take us to the mall (he hated going shopping..still does, actually) to buy UT shirts. I remember that this was the time when The Simpsons was huge and I got a Bart Simpson UT t-shirt. Grandmother asked me who this Bart fellow was and I said he was on a cartoon show and it was funny. She asked when it was on and I think it was on that night. I remember watching it with them and my grandmother cracking up when Bart called Mo's to ask for "Mr. I.P. Freely" She thought that was hilarious and repeated it several times, chuckling to herself. My grandfather was less amused by the state of television.
My Grandmother was quite a stubborn woman when she wanted to be. I remember several times she'd wake up in the night, feeling her chest hurting and would get up and leave the room so as to not disturb my grandfather. It was later she'd mention in passing--oh yeah, I had chest pains last night to which we'd all freak out. She has several heart small heart attacks like that and she had bypass surgery a few times in her life.
Toward the end of her life, she was in a lot of pain. She lost a good deal of her eyesight, to the point she could't see the large print books she loved to read. I went to visit them one time in early 1995 and she said something to me. She told me she wanted me to have a happy life. She then said that she didn't mean it would be happy every second, but overall for me to find happiness. I've always remembered that conversation. During the last few months and years of her life, as I said, she was in some pain, but you'd never know it. She was a fighter and kept on fighting on. She kept up with how all the cousins in the family were doing--my grandfather is one of seven kids--and she wrote everyone letters and sent cards. I bet no one in my family's b'day ever got missed by her...and having that many cousins, it's a remarkable thing.
I always knew I'd hear from them on my b'day and Christmas. Often, Grandmother liked to call early on your b'day to wish you a happy one. And I remember living all across the country and opening up the presents from Grandmother and Granddaddy first so we could talk about them when they called.
I am blessed that I was able to know both sets of my grandparents for many years. I'm blessed to still have Granddaddy here with us today. I think about my Grandmother from time to time...about the woman she was. She was so full of love and laughter, so supportive of her family and wanting the best for them. I hope that in my time on Earth, I am half as caring as she was toward my family and friends. One thing I always knew from my Grandmother was that I was loved completely and totally. And that I could virtually no wrong. Thinking back on her, I remember being spoiled not only in a material way but also by the love she had. I still miss her on b'days and at holidays. I miss her cards and the phone ringing to wish me a happy, specical day.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/07/2005 01:26:00 PM