I miss you. As I drove down my driveway I realized how much I miss you and how much of my life you’ve missed. I don’t really think about it too much because you’ve been on your journey for a while, and life has pulled me down my path. I was urged by Life to live and not dwell on you. So here I am…but I miss you.
You were a wonderful grandmother. My childhood would not have been the same without the many summer trips to Boise Idaho to visit the grandparents.
Some kids grow up with divorced parents. They know what it’s like to go back and forth from Dad’s house and Mom’s house. I am grateful that I don’t have this experience, but I got a taste whenever I would go to Idaho. In my world there was Grandma’s house and then there was Grandpa and Gloria’s house. Both were fun places to be, but like the people that occupied these houses each had a different flavor. The difference between these houses weren’t bad, but they were just different.
Grandpa’s house was fun because Gloria always kept the pantry stocked with cookies. There were no shortage of treats at their house.
Your house had treats too. Graham crackers and warm milk. As far as food goes that was my favorite thing to eat with you. I don’t know why, but I have a picture in my head, as a little girl, sitting at your kitchen counter enjoying a bowl of graham crackers and warm milk. That was always heaven in my mouth, however, the biggest treat was just being with you in your house.
When everything in me and around me seemed to be on fire going over to your house was like a cold drink of water. I felt the fire inside me and around me simmer and then evaporate when I would step onto your driveway. I would walk in the door, you would greet my family with calming joy, and your house would seem to gently whisper to me “Welcome back! Make yourself at home.”
Mom and Dad would sometimes say, “It’s a Foster Invasion!” as they would stumble in with multiple bags. My siblings would make a beeline for the den, that’s where the Nintendo was kept and Mario 64 had been calling their name since they touched down at the Boise Airport. I loved it too, but I loved so many other things about being at your house. You were the best part.
You were the water to my fire. Though I was young I never felt inferior to you. I knew my place and I looked up to you, but I felt like your equal. Though I was not nearly close to getting to know myself, or my significance, I knew somewhere deep in my soul how special I was to you. That made me feel safe. It felt safe to be me because I never for a second doubted how much you loved me. No one needed to tell me. I just felt it. So I played freely at your house. I was respectful of all your things, but I felt safe being as happy, as enthusiastic, and as spirited as I wanted. I was never shot down for it. Thank you!
I didn’t realize it when I was little, but I see it now. I got my first taste of unconditional love from you and my soul didn’t doubt it. My childlikeness could internally affirm, “Grandma loves me and I don’t need to do anything else to earn it.”
I didn’t realize it at the time, but unconditional love was you driving cross country from Idaho to Connecticut to visit. I love hearing from others why you would drive to visit instead of going to the airport. I was told that you loved to drive cross country to look at all the sights, to be able to take your time, and to avoid being in a crowed airport. You are so cool, and really special.
You taught me that people make mistakes, and that it’s okay. I remember driving in the car with you while you were visiting Connecticut. You ran a red light, looked back, gasped and said “Don’t tell your mother.” Sorry, but she knows now.
You taught me when I was little that a hug given with one arm can be full of love. I will never forget that lesson. I learned how to speak kindly about someone and that one-arm hugs are just as good as two-arm hugs. It was a teachable moment with two lessons. I went to work with you one day. It was always so fun to go to the office with you because everyone was so nice, and I loved to play with all the merchandise you would sell. The company you worked for would put logos and company names on anything the customer wanted. I also loved going to work with you because I got to pretend that I had my own office. There was an empty desk behind a standing bulletin board. It was across from your desk. I loved the feeling of hiding behind that board, sitting at the desk and feeling like I had my own office space. I worked diligently on my coloring. I would stay there for hours. I miss that office. At one point, I decided I wanted to see Grandma. There was a man who worked at the desk next to yours. He had a picture of a girl on his desk and only one arm. As a little girl my filter didn’t work quite right. I was honest and discovering how much of the world I didn’t understand. I asked the man who that girl was in the picture, after he had told me a story about how he lost his arm. The man had told me the girl was his daughter. Without batting an eye I asked this man how he hugs his daughter with only one arm. You, Grandma, looked up at me sternly. You told me to come to your desk. You said, “It’s possible to hug a person with one arm.” You demonstrated hugging me with one arm. I understood. I said sorry to the man and felt silly for being so blunt. I went back to my little office and gave myself a timeout. The rest of the day, though I don’t remember what we did, was not weighted. It was still fun.
You never forgot my birthday. This always made me feel seen, and appreciated. From my early years to my 15th birthday you never forgot to send something. It usually was something more than just a card, something you picked out special and took time to have delivered to me. Whatever the gift was it always made it just in time for my birthday. I’m so grateful for your careful love, and thoughtfulness.
Grandma, I didn’t know how to articulate this when I was younger and I didn’t understand all the reasons why I loved going to your house so much, but I understand now. Your calm demeanor touched me. I knew you were a homebody and I was too. Everything in your house was so pleasing to the eye and everything seemed to belong. We didn’t really share too many stories with each other. I didn’t really get to know your past. I never had too many deep talks with you, but I never doubted that you could handle it. I never felt like a dog with her tail between her legs. I never felt like I needed to cower when we were together, even if my enthusiasm got the best of me and I crossed a line. Your scolding never hurt. I just knew I took it too far.
Grandma, my favorite memory with you was one summer two out of three of my siblings went on a camping trip with Grandpa and Gloria. I decided to stay with you. It was the best summer…ever. My favorite movie to watch when I would go to your house was Bedknobs and Broomsticks. I watched that with you one day during that summer. Another day during that summer we went to an arcade called Boondocks. It was always one of the iconic places to go to when we visited Idaho and that summer I got to go with only one sibling. It was bliss. She was small at the time and full of joy. I remember no matter what we did she would laugh, and I would laugh, and you would be right there watching how happy I was. You bought us lunch and spoiled us with prizes, and all day I thought, “I’m so lucky to have a grandma like you!” Another day during this semi-siblingless summer I got to play all the Nintendo I wanted. No one to fight with, no one to argue with, and no one to tell me how to play. I sat in your den and played Mario 64 until my fingers hurt. You played Solitaire on your computer. Then you let me play games on your computer. It was quiet, and fun, and I was very happy.
I don’t know why, but there was always a kind of magical feeling whenever I would walk through the Boise Airport. It was like home. The shiny tiles on the floor and the walls glinted in the light. With every sparkle I would hear, “Magic. Magic. Magic. Summer. Summer. Summer. Joy. Joy. Joy.” Then we would approach baggage claim getting closer to walking outside. “Grandma’s house…almost there!” the sparkling floor would say, beaming up at me. Sometimes Grandpa would pick us up from the airport and then we would go to your house later in the week, but in the early days you picked us up from the airport. Your silver Honda was so iconic. There was never a time that my siblings and I could peacefully jump in your car. Someone was always arguing to sit in the trunk.
“I called it first!” One sibling would say. Then the back and forth bickering would ignite, until you and Mom would strike a deal with them of who gets it when. “Thank God for grown ups” my heart would say. If it wasn’t for grown ups all of us Foster kids would be torn apart right now. Imagine if you had a car that could fit 5 or 6 people comfortably! There would have been less fighting.
As a 15 year old there were some days where your embarking to the next plane of existence felt too soon. You were the only grandmother I knew you. You made me feel so good and loved, especially when the world around me made no sense. Your energy, the vibe (if you will) that you gave off always made me feel so happy and safe. You were strong, but it never felt overbearing. I will always be grateful for this.
Though it felt too soon sometimes I knew that you had to continue on. So it was the right time, but I wish you could see me now. Perhaps you can, but in the physical world you’re not here. It feels like you’ve missed so much. I had no idea that at 15 years old my journey was just beginning. I had big dreams and desires, but I was not prepared to watch them shift as drastically as they did. I wish I could sit with you and tell you of the adventure I’ve been on. I wish I could show you how much I’ve grown. I can drive a car, I can cook my own meals, and I’ve gone to college. That was something I never thought I’d do, but I went to college and it was where you and Grandpa met. My freshman year I was in the dorm (or house as they called it) that you were in. I grew so much over those 5 years. I met professors that touched my life more deeply than I ever imagined. I have had people come in and out of my life. I have learned that I have a voice and that people want to hear it! I went to England for 7 weeks. I learned about Shakespeare, performing, art, poetry, and British history in Shakespeare’s day. I wish I could tell you about the shows I saw and show you pictures of the Shakespeare Globe Theatre. My 15 year old self had no idea that was coming. I wish you could see the one-person show I created my final semester in college. I wish you could see how my writing, performing, and creativity flourished and continues to get better. Above all, I hope you know how much I loved you. I still love you.
Thank you for being you. I could say so much more, but I’ll end with this…I’m so grateful that you were my grandmother. When loved ones move on most people say, “I’m so sorry for your loss”. Though I miss you I don’t feel like I’ve lost you. Your physical being is not around, but the sweet memories I have, the way you made me feel is far from lost. You’re a gift. I love you so much, Grandma! Here’s to the journey!
2 thoughts on “Dear Grandma”
Barbara, A special Thank You for Dear Grandma. Of course, I love your Dear Grandma, too, and I find this touching portrait of your relationship a special gem. Like you. Robin
Thank you Robin! ❤️