Friday, 24 April, my Gram passed away at the grand old age of 89. How amazing to live so long! My Grandpa died in 2008 and my Gram soldiered on alone, after 64 years with the love of her life. The last 15 years had not been the easiest or kindest for my Grandparents. My Grandpa developed Alzheimers which was an immense challenge for both my Grandma and my Dad, their only child. How tremendously unfair that the, quite frankly, bastard of a disease known as Alzheimers, would eventually claim my Gram seven years after it took my Grandpa.
My Dad, through all of this, has been my grandparent’s rock and carer with the support of his wife and some amazing people in wonderful Memory Care facilities in my hometown. My greatest sadness is that I can’t be there to support and comfort him. Being 4000 miles away means my presence is primarily a virtual one through the wonders of modern technology. I missed my Grandpa’s funeral and will miss my Gram’s as well. But I am finding my own way to celebrate my Gram’s life the only way I can, by finding the good and happy memories.
10 Happy Memories of My Gram…
1) My Gram had the curliest hair I had ever seen. When I was little, her hair was a bit salt and pepper but as she aged it turned a lovely, silvery grey. But those curls! Gram always kept her hair cut short as a result of those tight, somewhat unruly curls.
2) My Gram made the best cookies. Whenever you visited their house there were ALWAYS cookies in the cookie jar. ALWAYS. There was either chocolate chip or oatmeal but sometimes she made these wonderful cookies with chocolate stars pressed into them. She was also a whiz at peanut butter cookies. I would help by making the criss cross pattern in them with a fork. My favourite was Gram’s oatmeal cookie.
3) My Gram took me to get my ears pierced when I was 10 years old, for my 10th Birthday. At the time, she would have been 55 years old and she had never had her ears pierced so she joined me! I don’t think Gram kept her earrings in for long but it was quite a treat to share that milestone.
4) My Gram made amazing chicken dumpling soup with homemade egg noodles. It was the perfect tonic for whatever ailed you. My Dad has mastered her technique with the dumplings thankfully so we can carry on with Gram’s legacy.
5) My Gram and I wrote a wonderful mystery short story when I was little. If I remember correctly, it was called “The Mysterious Case of Farley Filler”. I really should finish that story.
6) My Gram always knew how to tend to my myriad mosquito bites. She had a miracle ointment which she kept in a green-tinted glass jar, always located on one of the high shelves in the porch at the cottage. I still can smell the scent of the ointment and whatever it was it always seemed to help. She would daub it onto my bites with a cotton ball and everything would be alright.
7) My Gram always tried to involve me in the preparation for our annual Pontoon Parade every 4th of July. I was generally relegated to melon balling duty but that suited me just fine. Every year, my Grandpa, Dad, brother, my Mom and I would pile onto the Pontoon with whatever float theme we had created and poodled around the lake while my Gram held down the fort at The Cottage. Gram’s Deviled Eggs were the stuff of legend and I will always think of her every time I make them.
8) My Gram came to visit us in England along with my Dad and Stepmom in 2009. She had changed a lot and was in the early stages of dementia but it was still wonderful to show her a part of the world she had never seen. My Dad printed out loads of pictures from their visit and showed them to her frequently. It was a happy memory she kept for several years after.
9) My Gram loved a “Hi Ball” for the cocktail hour. When she and my Grandpa were in their early retirement, the cocktail hour was a highlight of their week! They had large, heavy glasses for those cocktails and I never knew what went in it but it remained a slightly glamorous memory of mine for years. Gram’s 11:00am glass of beer was also a daily tradition.
10) My Gram was such a wonderful cook. I adored her Chicken & Biscuits but one of my personal favourites was her apple pie. Every Thanksgiving my Gram would make two pies to go along with everything else that went with Thanksgiving: the traditional Pumpkin pie and an Apple pie for me because I didn’t like Pumpkin pie.
These, and many more, are Happy memories of my Gram that I will treasure forever. My Gram was opinionated, stubborn, loyal, feisty and loving. She was one of a kind. Rest in peace Gram. I’ll miss you.