Friday, August 3, 2012

"Angel of Mercy, How Did You Find Me? How Did You Pick Me Up Again?"

When I was at work the other day, a conversation with a customer inspired me to write a piece about the significance of grandparents, which I will share with you today. The customer came in to cash a check- "money for my grandchildren," she said. I asked how old her grandchildren were and if they were coming up to stay with her. She said they were and that they were ages ten and fifteen. She said the fifteen year old was getting "too old" to come stay with her, but she liked to come and visit anyway. My coworkers and I assured her that you were never too old to visit grandma. She wished us a good day, and I smiled as she left. My smile quickly faded as it occurred to me that I no longer had a grandmother to visit. I lost my nana when I was in grade school and losing my other grandmother only a few months ago, I feel at a loss. I have one remaining grandfather whose health is slowly fading, having lost the other when I was in high school. 
Grandparents hold that special place in our hearts, a place we might not have even realized they held until they are gone. I still feel like they're all here with me. I talk about my grandparents (plural) and realize I should be using singular terminology now. It's sad when this realization strikes me because the world seems a little less friendly. Having grandparents brings light to the world, fills you with memories of youth, reminds you of what unconditional love feels like. Now, this is not to say that one's own parents and siblings don't also provide that, but the love of a grandparent is in a category all its own. It's as if you're their one and only when you're with them, you're their special princess always. My grandmother has always called me princess and I always referred to myself as such when writing to her. In fact, the last birthday card I received from her a few weeks before she passed, she addressed to her princess. Even at twenty-four years of age, the name still stuck and it is something I continue to carry with me. 
I have memories from all my grandparents like that which I hold on to and try to remember on days like today when I'm feeling upset that they are no longer here to call or to write to, to visit or to talk to. Along with calling me princess, I remember how she used to play dominoes with us at her kitchen table while sipping her tea and wearing her sweatshirt that said something to the effect of praising her grandchildren as special. She had three pins on it, each one looked like me and my siblings at the time (my other brother wasn't born then). I remembered playing with them and naming them all. I remember my grandfather watching us play with the plastic city mat we would lie down on the living room floor. We would race the cars down streets and set up the hospital parking lot with its ambulances and police cars. I remember when they would take us to the mall and we would ride the carousel and get happy meals for lunch. I remember The Price is Right would always be on at lunch time right before the news at noon, and in the afternoon, my grandmother would play Big Band music and whistle along as she washed the dishes. These are things I never want to leave my memory. 
My other grandparents, my mother's parents, I remember as well. I wish I remembered more, but I was younger when my nana passed. I am thankful that I was able to meet and know her though, unlike some of my siblings. Every time we dig up old photos taken in my nana's house of her holding me as a baby, I tear up a little. I remember this one time that my grandparents took my sister and I on a boat ride. I remember holding nana's hand and eating snack food, but it's only a fleeting memory. I wish I remembered more. Once, my sister and I set the egg timer in the kitchen where my mother and nana were talking at the table while we went berry picking with grandpa. We nearly gave them a heart attack when it went off, but we thought it was the funniest thing. I remember sitting in the back of my grandpa's white truck and playing with the leaves that had fallen from nearby trees. I remember how he always kept boxes of Chiclets in a drawer in the kitchen, and usually one in his shirt pocket. He would chew them constantly or put them in front of his teeth to make us laugh. He was constantly putting things in his eyes too- Oreos, marshmallows, quarters, anything to make a silly face. I remember the way he laughed, or rather chuckled, when one of us said something clever, and the way he yelled "Quinney, get off that" when the cat went somewhere it shouldn't have. 
All these memories I have stockpiled in my brain and from time to time, I like to pull them out and look at them again. I think it helps to write them down because I never want to forget any of them. Time with our loved ones is so short. I remember being excited over a happy meal toy and a trip to the Disney store, and now I am in my own apartment getting excited over the power that Kaboom holds over the mold in my bathtub. It goes by too quickly, and I'm trying not to miss a thing. However, everyone who is gone is never forgotten because I memorialize them in my mind, in my thoughts, in my prayers, in my wishes, in my words, and through my love.

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