Visiting Grandma… by JoAnn
My only grandmother was my mother’s mom when I was a young child. When I was born, Grandma was already in her eighties. It was pretty easy to figure out that my mom had been the youngest of a very large family and that my grandmother had her in her 40s. My mother had me at age 40, and I was also the youngest of all the other grandchildren, and there were many of us. It didn’t take long for me to realize the age difference between me and all my other cousins. I only had one cousin who was my age, and I only saw him once a year at best.
To me, I grew up believing all grandparents must be very old. They didn’t play with their grandkids; they stayed in bed all day, couldn’t walk well, and were always tired. I never knew what it was like to grow up spending the night at my grandma’s house, eating a family meal with her, getting gifts from her, or spending summer vacations with her. When I was old enough to understand what other children usually get from a grandparent, I felt very cheated. I realized what I had missed in my childhood, and to this day, it makes me very sad.
But I do have some memories of visiting my grandma that I cherish. I remember her face and voice like it was yesterday. She had long silver hair that went past her waist. It was piled neatly on her head in a bun whenever she was not in bed. She was about 5’2″, a little plump, and had tiny feet that were swollen. She had trouble walking from her bedroom to the living room, where she would sit in a rocking chair and visit with us. I remember well her sweet smile when she saw our faces. She gave every indication of being a loving grandma. If only I could have known her many years earlier.
I remember well my sister and I standing on either side of her as she sat in her rocking chair and my mama taking our picture. I have that old Polaroid somewhere among all my old photographs. I don’t need the actual photo in my hands, as the memory is still clear of what all 3 of us looked like at the time. I loved my grandma’s silver hair and her sweet smile. Even as a young child, I could see how much my mama favored grandma. I could also see the deep love they had for one another.
Even though I felt cheated for not having special memories of a younger grandmother, I feel grateful now that I knew my grandma in her later years as I did. It was special. She lived to be in her nineties. Each time I visited her, she became weaker and more forgetful. She lived her last years completely bedridden, sleeping 90% of her days. I remember the sadness on my mama’s face on those last visits and the heartbreak when my grandma passed.
When my grandma passed away, my mama said something to me that I have never forgotten. She said, “Love your mother and be good to her, for she is your best friend!” I later learned just how my mama must have felt when she said those words to me. When she passed away, I indeed felt as though I had lost my best friend.
I may have missed out on many years with my grandma, but I learned valuable lessons from the situation I was given. Knowing her, no matter how short the time, made me a better daughter, mother, and grandma to my children and grandchildren. God works things out, no matter how small of a portion we may get.