My maternal grandmother (and last grandparent) passed away a little over six years ago, two days before her 86th birthday. For some reason I have been thinking a lot about her this year. On her birthday I remembered when she used to talk about Grandpa Dave (her husband) being excited about turning 92 (he died about a month before that milestone, I believe). I can hear her imitating him, saying, “I’m 92!” (which I learned this year was actually a saying that came from further up the ancestor ladder). This year she would have reached 92 years of age herself.
My grandmother and grandfather liked to square dance. In fact, I think they might have met each other at a square dance hall. One summer when my brother and I were visiting them, they taught us the basics and took us with them to dance one evening. I was nervous about dancing with a bunch of strangers but it was fun.
I have so many fond memories of spending summers with them at their farm house, helping with the garden, swimming in the creek, waking up and seeing deer outside my bedroom window. I can still mentally navigate their old, yellow house. Drew and I used to walk (and sometimes take turns pulling each other in the wagon) the loooong gravel road from their house out to the road to get the mail.
Whenever I hear big band music, I think of my grandmother. She taught me how to play Heart and Soul on the piano. We would usually bake something new together each summer and she’d help me copy the recipe card for my collection. My brother and I sometimes slept in a tent under the plum trees in the yard, played with lawn darts and receive a nickel for every white cabbage-eating moth we caught.
I remember popping puff balls off of the big oak tree in the back yard. Watching the gigantic satellite dish turn as it tried to find “Salute Your Shorts” or “Get Smart”. One scoop each of Umpqua’s chocolate ice cream and orange sherbet for dessert. Drew and I splitting a three o’clock snack (“Don’t tell your mother!”).
I was sad that my grandmother was never able to meet my children. Kaitlyn was just under two months old when she died. I know she got to see a picture of her but I know she would have “gotten a kick out of” all of her great-grandchildren. I miss her (and her many colloquialisms) a lot.
My kids are following in the steps of my brother and I by hopping on a plane in the summer to trek out west and spend time with their maternal grandparents and extended family. Pretty soon they’ll be flying out there without us and having a blast, making many wonderful memories like we did. I know they’ll forge deep relationships and have experiences that they’ll treasure throughout their lives.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to think fondly of my grandparents and adventures shared. I’ll pass along some Grandmaisms to my own kids in remembrance of her spunk. Hey, it’s better than a stick in the eye!