My Grandmother was many things.
She was born on an Indian Reservation in Shamrock, Oklahoma. She lived through the Great Depression and only ate turnip greens, which caused her to hate turnip greens with a passion for the rest of her life. She lost her brother at a young age in a hunting accident. She moved to Chicago, Illinois and met a young Italian boy in high school, and they fell in love. They broke apart once, and when a young navy man showed interest in my grandmother, the young Italian boy followed the Navy gentleman into the bathroom, beat him up and ripped off his mustache, to let everyone know to stay away from his girl.
She and that young Italian boy were married, and she supported him as he build a life and his dream of being in racing. They struggled, and hid under the bed when the landlord would come looking for the rent, her first born son did not have a crib, instead he slept in the drawer of one of their dressers.
Success came and they moved from Chicago to Charlotte where they raised 8 children, they built and life and a home for those children ,over 20 grandchildren and a multitude of great grandchildren, one of which was born a few days ago. She suffered through the loss of 3 of those children, and three of those grandchildren. And through it all she remained the rock that we all needed.
She never learned how to drive but was able to take care of anyone who needed it. She loved books and would always read, she could paint statues that belonged in a museum of fine art exhibit, she could cook better than anyone in this world, she knew what to say when you were feeling down, and what to say when you need a good kick in the rear. Whenever I felt lost growing up all I had to do was go to her house, she always helped me find my way.
My Grandmother left this world on Saturday Morning at 4am while I was fast asleep. I never got the chance to really tell her how much I loved her, to tell her how much she meant to me, to tell her how much she saved me and how she shaped me into the person I am today. She taught me how to cook, she gave me a love of books that I have passed down to my children, she gave me a place to stay when I needed it, she gave me a home, and she loved me no matter how much I screwed up or how stupid I was.
This morning I had the hard task of telling my children that Grammy was gone. My daughter, who enjoyed getting to go to my grandmother’s house and have tea parties, was very sad. My son perked her up by explaining how his paper airplane was flying so much better than they normally do, and he could not figure out why and now he knew, Grammy was making it fly higher. My daughter smiled and skipped away saying that she was sure Grammy would now be there whenever she wanted to have a tea party, and they could now have one every day. My son threw his plane, looked at me and exclaimed “SEE DADDY!!!” and then took off to play with it some more.
I had been struggling with her death since I heard of it, I could not smile, I could not laugh, I was as far down as I could go. But when my son ran from my room I smiled, I smiled and I cried, and I thought to myself how lucky I was to have the family I had, and I realized that my daughter was right, my grandmother would always be there. She helped shape me into the man I have become, and the lessons I now teach my children, many that I learned from her, will live on and in them so will her spirit.
My Grandmother IS many things, she’s the voice in the back of my head, she is the guest of honor at my daughters tea party every day, she is the wind that helps fly my son’s plane, and she will never be far from any of us.