I know, a bit of a jump cut from pregnancy (baby's doing great, btw) to death, but in the wake of yet another death in the family besides Grandma Jane's, I thought I should post my thoughts of her that I prepared in case it was one of those memorial services where the pastor asks people randomly to come up and everyone just sort of sits there looking awkward and feeling guilty that they aren't honoring the deceased. It's probably good that he didn't, as while I can give a decent prepared speech I am not an emotional extrovert (or extrovert in any sense of the word really) and I write much better than I emote. This is as close as I come to putting my heart on my sleeve, so consider yourself lucky.
It’s hard for me to come up with just one or two memories of Grandma Jane that qualify both my relationship with her as well as my perception of her as a person. I’m a big believer in the little things in life making up the most important part of who we are, and that is how I remember her. I remember things like the Ovaltine she always made the grandkids when we visited, how she introduced me to frozen Oreos as an awesome snack, that she let us play with her very expensive jewelry for dress up because if someone wasn’t wearing it what was the point in having it anyway? I remember that she was always dressed nice, with makeup, even when I thought it kind of wasn’t worth the effort since all she was doing was staying home to play with us. I remember she never failed to step on my dog when she visited, mostly because Hershey knew she was probably going to make something that smelled good and managed to plant herself right where Grandma couldn’t avoid her. I remember that she insisted that my then boyfriend, now husband, take her car on a test drive before he bought it from her, even though I had driven her to the house in that car half an hour before and we both knew that she took it to the dealer every 6 months for service and had less than 35,000 miles on it. I remember that she always saved the junk mail for me to go through and enter the Publisher’s Clearinghouse sweepstakes for her, as I couldn’t bear the thought of her missing out on an opportunity to win millions. Now I realize I probably killed more trees by helping her win her fantastic millions than ensured she would be set for life, but the contest bug never left me, as most people who know me can attest. I remember that I was never embarrassed to go clothes shopping with her because even though she didn’t hesitate to give her opinion it was always kind, and she didn’t take offense when I didn’t take her advice – even though I probably should have given her impeccable fashion sense. I remember she never seemed to be offended when my siblings and I headed straight to her bedroom to watch tv when we visited – she had cable and we didn’t, although thinking about it now I would probably be annoyed if I’d planned to spend time with my grandchildren and they planned to spend time with my tv. I remember that she could season anything and make it taste good even when I thought it would be gross. I remember her laugh, the twinkle in her eye that went with it, and am fairly certain at least part of my sarcasm was to her credit. She had this incredible way of always being nice to people, but never overlooking their obvious flaws either, and never being afraid to mention them politely. This included her own flaws, which of course were there but I’m happy to say were few enough that I didn’t notice much. I suppose what all these little things that are etched in my memory are telling me is that she’s always been a huge part of my life, regardless of where I was geographically or personally. She always made an effort to make sure I knew I was loved and supported in my efforts, so much so I took it for granted, which is really what children should do. There are many aspects of her that I aspire to – to be both a fabulous cook and have a clean house at the same time, to make my own children and theoretical grandchildren think that my love and support of them is effortless, and to have a lot of people not mind the fact that I’m opinionated, or if they do know enough to keep their mouth shut about it. Grandma Jane managed to combine both strength and beauty, fairness and love, firmness and flexibility, loyalty and grace. While I took it for granted as a child, I’m finding those quality combinations quite rare in the real world; maybe someday I’ll figure out how she did it.