Dear Grandma

Most of my friends have heard me refer to Crabby Grandma S. She earned that title well if you saw her frowning in most of her pictures. I got used to her response when asking her to go to a movie or her favorite place, Kmart, "...........Well,.......(big sigh)......I s'pose......" Grandma was a tough, very private and fiercely independent person that was hard to get to know (if you asked her two questions she'd accuse you of being "nosey"). In the years since my maternal grandparents passed on, I made an effort to take her out to movies and for dinner or ice cream whenever she would allow it. She never learned to drive and still walked or took the bus everywhere, no matter the weather. She'd occasionally accept rides to the store or to the doctor's office, but she'd often turn them down. She hated having her picture taken, but I was one of the lucky people that could get away with it. I'd have to set up the photo and then tease her that it wouldn't be over until she smiled. I'd then be informed that I was a pain in the ass, but she would smile and even laugh a little.

Grandma was famously hard to shop for. She had strong likes and dislikes, she already had everything, and then the task was complicated by a birthday that fell three days after Christmas. But, if she like your gift, her highest praise was that she'd hide it away, never to be seen again because she wanted to keep it nice.

She'd save her best smiles for her great-granddaughter, Haille, and her granddaughter, Brianna. Last Christmas she watched them play for hours, laughing with them from her spot on the couch.

She was very practical, but she also liked pretty things. She had at least fifty pairs of orthopedic shoes, most of them from rummage sales, but she also had about forty purses that might or might not match her outfit. When I was little, I always received a pack of underwear for Christmas and a necklace or locket. My mom would later have to explain to me why a pack of underwear is a very nice gift while she clasped the locket around my neck. Once I married, she'd give me pillowcases and dishtowels, but she'd also include something hand-embroidered or a pretty Christmas pin.

She loved clipping recipes. We've found thousands in her home. Some taped into little notebooks or journals, some piled on the kitchen table with the magazines and bills and some tucked in between couch cushions and in the coffee table. But she always stuck to the tried a true fruit and marshmallow salads for family gatherings.

Grandma loved a good romance story. I took her to all of the movies with "wedding" in the title: Four Weddings and a Funeral, Wedding Singer, Wedding Crashers, Runaway Bride, Wedding Planner, Made of Honor, etc. I'll never forget taking her to see Titanic in the theaters. Everyone knows how Titanic ends, but she was so invested in the characters that she kept gasping over and overfor the last hour of the film, and I thought I'd have to give her CPR in the theater.

She spent a lot of time thinking about her family. She clipped coupons even more than recipes and had envelopes for every family with the things she thought they'd need. I think she started saving tampon and maxi pad coupons just for me when I turned fourteen. She also collected clothes at rummage sales for every member of the family. It was always entertaining to see what she thought we'd like or what she thought might fit us. In my teenage years I remember getting a lemon yellow terrycloth jumper that was three sizes too small and the next visit I'd get an extra large sequined Christmas sweater. The rummage bags from Grandma were always a treasure hunt.

I'll miss all of these things and more about Grandma. When I wasn't allowed soda at home, she'd offer me a glass at Christmas visits just like all of the adults. When my brother and I slept over at her house, we had instant oatmeal for the first time for breakfast and we were allowed to watch TV while we ate it. She had a light up fireplace with a lightbulb and a rotating brush drum under plastic made to look like burning coals. She also had a hanging lamp with a water wheel in the center that turned with oil and the filaments around the lamp dripped with oil like it was raining. She used to collect rotating, color-changing fiberoptic flowers that glittered under the glass. All of the light sets on her Christmas tree blinked to a different pace and I could watch that pattern for hours. I'll miss her sneaking me candy from her purse, I'll miss telling her to button up her winter coat, I'll miss her stories about her country music stars, and I'll miss helping her with her seatbelt (she never mastered those).

This loss was very sudden, partially because she was so independent and wouldn't accept help, but, she wouldn't have wanted it any other way. She wouldn't want us to see her sick. She wouldn't have wanted to go to the hospital because they'd be "nosey." She took care of herself all of her life and preferred time spent alone. She refused to tell us her age and still colored her hair regularly to look younger. We found out later that she would have turned 79 years young (and stubborn) in another month. So, we wish you well, Grandma. May heaven be filled with gossip magazines and coupon flyers and rummage sales and blue light specials.

Love always,
Your Granddaughter, Melinda