My Dearest Grammy~
Happy Birthday. 98 years old. Wow…. the life you have lead…. the things you have seen.
Born in 1913.
You are amazing. You walk, you laugh, you talk….you are so physically healthy and yet, you no longer remember me.
But you know what? I remember you. And my small people remember you. And THAT is important.
I remember the green and white tank top you wore every summer…. I remember the Rice Crispy treats you made every time you visited. I remember giving up my room so you had a place to sleep. I remember that you wore the same dress to my wedding that you wore to Mom and Dad’s (why would you need something new when it still fit so beautifully?) I remember the Christmases…. all the times you said, ‘and away we go’…. and that time you asked me to get you “another glass of hooch, Darlin'”.
Oh, and I will never forget that you always called me Darlin’. In fact, that is how I first knew I was losing you…. when you stopped calling me that. Now, our conversations on the phone are distant – you alternately struggling to figure out just WHO is on the phone and forcing your pride to take over – pretending that you CLEARLY know….
I’ll confess, I am mad at the disease that is stealing your mind…. your memories…. Even though I know you have lived dozens of years with strong thoughts, opinions and many joyful times. It is hard to watch you – so brilliant – so proud – so precise – fight for control. It is heart-breaking when you simply don’t recognize me…. or worse, when you forget something significant – like losing your own parents. I detest the idea that you might have to relive some of that pain as though you are experiencing it for the same time….
But deep in your heart, if not your mind, remember this…. I love you. Moments with you are woven deeply in the tapestry of my childhood. I cannot separate thoughts of summer from memories of your presence. It is impossible to say your name – aloud or in my head – without breaking in to a smile.
Thank you for being the only grandparent I ever really knew. Thank you for your hugs, for always asking – and listening – and for saying this, “Ain’t love grand, Darlin’?” That moment – when you floated between today and 60 years ago…. it is one of my favorite memories of you.
Happy Birthday, Grammy….
I miss you and love you.
Edited to add:
*sigh* I called my Grammy last night – Dad aid she seemed particularly lucid, so I tried to catch her in that moment. Sadly, it was the complete opposite. This was the first time she had absolutely no idea who I was for the entire conversation and didn’t know it was her birthday. It was incredibly sad. She couldn’t get off the phone with me fast enough. She didn’t know she HAD a granddaughter, didn’t know I had children – and even my reminders weren’t helpful. Her pride ended the conversation with a ‘I’ll phone you next week to catch up’…. and my ‘I love you’ wasn’t returned. But, I imagine it is hard to say ‘I love you’ to a stranger….