It's been 29 years since my sweet little gramma S. slipped into heaven.
I was 11.
(I know you are doing math right now. Stop that.)
She had a bee-hive hair-do, painted fingernails, she sold avon, she LOVED Elvis, (had a scarf of his from what I am told) and she wore those turquoise rings on almost every finger.
She lived only 20 minutes or less from us. But as a kid, that drive to her house seemed like it took
Perhaps it was because I just loved loved loved it when I would get to spend the night there. She lived in a 1-bedroom house. With a kitchen and unfinished basement.
Hard for me to fathom (now) how she raised three kids in this house.
But she did.
And I remember a little cubby she had that was sort of a cut out on the way to the basement. She stored shoes there. I would get in there and pull out all of the high heeled shoes I could find and wear them around her house.
Her tiny house didn't seem so tiny 30-35 years ago.
But I would clip-clop around in those shoes around her kitchen while drinking RC Cola and eating Totinos pizzas.
And later I would remember sitting in front of her while she was in her recliner, wheel of fortune was on T.V., and she would make two small braids in the top of my hair and rubber band them together. The rest of my long blond hair hung down past my shoulders. I remember it being so relaxing. And something I would ask for every time I stayed there.
Only gramma could do my hair like that.
I would sleep either on the floor or couch of the living room. If it was summer, a big box fan was set up. And I would lay right in front of it. Something my own mom would never let me do....but gramma did!
We would paint our nails. Gramma kept a finger nail file in the same case that she kept her cigarettes. Why I remember this detail, I don't know.
(Sometimes we would paint my brother's nails because he didn't want to be left out of our fun!)
(Much to my dad's dissappointment!)
In the morning we would eat something like the equivalent of "super sugar crisp" and gramma would make her coffee and share it with us. Of course, ours was basically milk and sugar with a dash of coffee.
Memories are good.
I wish I had pictures of those memories.
I understand that my gramma was one of those strong/stubborn types.
When it came to medical issues, at least.
To the best of my recollection, she either had lung cancer that spread into breast cancer....Or breast cancer that spread to her lungs.
But I do know that she died of cancer.
And I remember her showing me scars from surgeries. While I was wearing some of my favorite shoes of hers. Shoes that she didn't wear....but still kept stored in her closet of shoes.
I saw what it looked like to lose a part of you.
Except when I look back on the experience, I see it as a warning.
From my gramma.
There were no secrets between us when we were together. Not that she just would reveal details to me....but if I asked, she would tell.
So she told me about her breast cancer.
And while I don't know this for sure right now....I am pretty certain she was about the age I am...or not much older than me.
And she told me.
"I know you have questions. I waited too long. this is what it looks like."
and I saw her scar.
In my small little way, I knew it was a significant moment. But in my little kid way, I will still remember how I raided her shoe closet, we drank RC Cola, ate Totinos pizza, watched Wheel of Fortune, she braided my hair, and my mama picked me up after I ate sugar for breakfast and had "coffee."
When Gramma was sick, I vaguely remember my grandpa and his wife inviting us all to their home for Christmas.
As a kid....it was the "bestest."
I knew gramma was not in good health. That was not a secret.
I'm not sure if I remember these details the way they actually happened, but to the best of my recollection, gramma spent the rest of her days in the hospital.
And we weren't allowed to see her.
But I remember talking to her on the phone
like it was just a breath before this....
"Gramma....can I please come see you?"
"Not now. Let's just talk."
And we talked on the phone.
About my Christmas presents, about Wheel of Fortune, about Elvis, about fingernail polish and high-heeled shoes.
A few days later (as best as I can tell), I was watching my new black and white TV in my room after Christmas.
I fell asleep.
And in my dreams, gramma came into my room.
My closed door was opened and she walked in.
"You are a good girl," she said. "Keep being a good girl."
"Gramma is always here for you."
She sat on the edge of my bed and told me she loved me.
"Okay Gramma. I love you too."
And then I woke up.
My gramma passed away in the hospital that day that I had that dream.
I am absolutely sure....from that day till this one....that God allowed her to speak to me in a dream.
And even if I am mistaken....the dream has always been a gift.
Love you gramma
thanks for the shoes
the big box fan
the nail polish
the Elvis stories
and Wheel of Fortune
I believe my mama when she later told me that
You heard music and saw angels.
You had made peace with your God and Savior
And you wanted us to know that you did.
Your story inspires me to live a better story of my own.