Friday, February 08, 2013

Rememberance of a Long Distance Grandma

Remember my first post of the year?

Where I said I was positive that 2013 wouldn't be as fabulous as 2012 was?

Well, sadly, it's not because I'm psychic. It's because it was sadly inevitable.

My Grandma died on Wednesday.

It wasn't a surprise. She fell ill a few weeks after her 85th birthday in October. From what I was hearing about her last days, it was a bittersweet blessing she finally went.

It's hard to describe to people who didn't grow up 4000+ miles away from their grandparents (and aunts and uncles and cousins) what kind of relationship I had with my Grandma.

She's the only grandma I ever really had. My Dad's Mom (and Dad for that matter) passed away a few years before I was born.

My contact with her was limited to phone calls, birthday cards and letters.

Oh the letters! I don't have the space to fully outline the weirdness that was young Bezzie. But let's just say that it was cultivated quite a bit with those letters back and forth to Grandma.

I met my Grandma and Grandpa for the first time when I believe I was about the age Chunky is now. So, 11 or so?

They came up to Alaska and in the grand fashion that my Old Man likes to show off our state--we took them all over. The thing that stuck out in my mind from that trip is when they went on a Kenai Fjords tour (i.e., a day-boat trip too look at glaciers and wildlife on the Kenai Penninsula). Apparently poor Grandma got pretty seasick--to the point where she had to pull out her dentures lest she lose them barfing!)

Thereafter I referred to her as Seasick (and Grandpa as "Daylight" because he could not get over how light out it was all the time!).

The next time I saw Grandma was in the late summer of 2000.

Dr. Mad Scientist and I were just cute little newlyweds traveling from Colorado to Michigan where he would start grad school. We spent a day or two hanging with Grandma and Grandpa and meeting a boatload of my Mom's relatives for the first time.

I gave Dr. MS mad props for being such a trooper and meeting all those aunts and uncles and cousins I had only heard about or gotten birthday cards from! There are eight kids in my Mom's family...and at that time, five of them lived in Illinois and we met four of them and their families. And I remember myself being very exhausted from all the travel.

And then--

We moved to New Jersey.

Which is waaaay farther away from where Grandma lived (in Illinois) than we were in Michigan.

And ironically, I got to see MORE of Grandma.

It became our yearly tradition that when she was out for a week visiting my Aunt Jaywalker in Massachusetts that they would take a day and we would meet up at a predetermined spot (usually some fun touristy spot) that was approximately halfway between NJ and MA.

The first year it was Gillette Castle State Park in Connecticut.

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The next year it was Howe Cavern's in New York.

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And last August, it was the Delaware & Ulster Railroad, also in New York.

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I am forever grateful that my boys got to meet and spend quality time with their Grandma Great--even if perhaps Moochie won't remember much of her.

And I am extremely happy that Baby Sister got to meet her quasi-namesake (technically we named her after my Mom--but Grandma also had this name too) even if she was only a mere 5 months old when she did.

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I'm not sure what we're going to do the first week of August this year though. We'll have to ponder that.

Grandma influenced me quite a bit even if she was thousands of miles away from me my whole life.

Even though she didn't teach me to knit, she was an avid crocheter and knitter herself. Every baby that has been born she would knit or crochet a blanket for. Some years this meant a LOT of work--like 2012 where she saw four new great-grandkids born (I think...I may be counting wrong!).

But I can personally attest, having been the one to give her her first great-grandkid, that those blankets are WELL loved.

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That is Chunky's blanket 11 years later. He still has to sleep with that thing every night!!

I have so many other funny stories I could relate--but I won't bore the average reader that didn't know Grandma.

I wanted to go to her funeral this weekend. But it would have meant doing the trip solo with Baby Sister which seemed difficult, but feasable -- and then this winter storm descended upon us earlier than I expected...so I called it. Maybe if it was just me doing the trip alone.

I feel bad (and guilty) about not getting to say a final goodbye to Grandma.

But on the other hand, maybe it's for the best. My final memory of her is giving her a hug in the parking lot of the Delaware & Ulster Railway a mere six months ago. That's the Grandma I want to remember.

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