A couple of months ago I lost my grandmother to cancer. Though some time has passed since then, the memory of her is still frequent in my mind. I can still smell her banana bread baking in the oven, picture her famous cutout cookies and buckeyes lining the kitchen counters, and hear her voice on the phone.
I pulled out my phone to let my grandpa know I was thinking about him this week, and as I began to search for his name in my contacts, my grandmother’s number came up as well. I hadn’t realized I still had her number in my phone. Before, I would try to call her at least once a week to say hello, to see how she was doing. She never wanted to talk about herself, but she was so interested in me and what I was doing. Whenever I would ask how she was, she always just said, “Oh, I’m doing alright,” or “I’ll be okay,” and would instead continue to ask about me. She would ask if I was dating anyone, how my job was going, and if I still enjoyed running (we all know the answer to that one!!) She was so proud of me. She would go on and on when we talked; telling me what a beautiful granddaughter she had, how smart I was, and how I must be the best teacher in the world. Of course I think it’s in every grandmother’s job description to brag about their grandchildren, but she still had a way about her that made me know her words were genuine.
My first plane ride was to go visit my grandparents- they lived in New York at the time. I was so excited and felt so grown-up (although I was young enough to need the stewardess to escort me on and off the plane…) The airport lost my luggage overnight, so my grandma took me to the store to pick up a few things. Ten years later, I still remember the striped pink pajama pants we got at Target.
I loved visiting my grandparent’s house when I was younger. The ten hour car ride felt like forever as my sisters and I were eagerly awaiting our arrival. We would play car games, watch movies, and even count the number of houses that had Christmas lights decorating the outside of them… until finally, we were there! My grandparent’s house was the best. Countless hours were spent playing in their basement; my sisters and I would sit in the high chairs, the chairs with leather seats and metal frames, and pretend to play “bar.” We would always mix several drinks together to make various concoctions… we thought they were delicious at the time! After that, we would take a break to ride the little red car around the basement or play dress-up with my grandmother’s old dresses, listening to music from my grandfather’s old jukebox all the while. I don’t think I ever opened the freezer door in her basement without finding a box of chocolate Ho-Ho’s- she knew they were my favorite when I was younger. So many of my memories as a child are from days spent in that basement- relationships were built with my sisters and cousins there, and much laughter was always heard.
My grandmother was such an important part of my life; the older I got, the closer we became. My middle name is Rose, I was named after her. As I reread the letter I wrote to my Grandma just days before she passed away with tears in my eyes, I am reminded of the value of relationships, and the importance of the little things in life. Cherish those little things each and every day… for that is what life is truly about.
I love you, Grandma… this one’s for you.