|My Grandmother and I in 1951|
I would say that she was one of the most forgiving people I have ever met and it didn't matter what someone did or said to her, she always found some reason to excuse the behavior. I wish I had some of that in myself. She never missed a Sunday in Church and was always praying for everybody. She was on a Prayer Chain in her Church where people would call her with requests for prayers and she would stop whatever she was doing and start praying for whoever needed prayers, which pretty much was all the time.
I remember her sweet little smile and the way she would turn her head a tilt. Her smile would melt even the hardest of hearts. That's not to say that she wouldn't give you a "what for" if you disobeyed her or didn't listen to her advice. We all knew how much we could get away with.
Her life wasn't an easy one and after raising my dad and two other siblings of her own, she pretty near raised the nine of us as well. She and Grandpa lived in a little one bedroom house just a few steps from the "big house" (which is what we called it) where we lived. She sold the "big house" to my dad and they converted a little garage into the cutest little house. So, when she wasn't in our house helping my mom we were in her little house visiting her. My great-grandparents lived next door so we were completely sheltered in a way, always having the voices of all of them and all their superstitions as well. HA HA
She was very frugal and I always thought that she could make 2 pennies out of one. Never stingy, just frugal and always making use of everything and never throwing anything away. It was from her that I learned how to cook. No one and I mean no one could make homemade chicken and dumplings like she could. She never had a recipe and relied upon the many years of adding and deducting the ingredients until she figured out the right consistency. My first batch was so bad, I could have broken out a window if I'd thrown it. LOL But I did as she did until I found MY own consistency. Every Christmas that was her gift to all of us...her homemade chicken and dumplings.
I remember when she got sick (after my grandfather passed) she sort of lost her will to live and wanted to die...I sensed the feeling she had no purpose...not having anyone to take care of anymore. So she refused to eat and lay in the bed at the nursing home, I suppose waiting to die. But that never happened and one day she told the nursing assistant, "Well, I might as well get up as it looks like God isn't going to let me die yet." And that being said, that is exactly what she did...she got up and started "running the nursing home" LOL Of course, it made her feel useful again to "boss" the residents and staff around and they all seemed to follow along. We all need a sense of purpose and she found hers once again.
When the time finally came for her to die, she pretty much starved to death because of cancer and she was too old to have any surgery at that time. I recall going to the hospital and sitting with her and out of the blue she said to me "I'm going to die". She couldn't cry because something was wrong with her tear ducts but the terror of the thought was there without the tears. I thought there was no sense in telling her that it wasn't true so I told her I knew. She grabbed my hand and looked at me so intently and said, "But if I die, how will I see you again"? I really wasn't prepared for the question but somehow the words flowed out of mouth without me having to think about them. I said, "Well, when we close our eyes and think about each other, we will see each other". That seemed to soothe her for the time being.
Six weeks later, she passed away. I wasn't with her because I was helping take care of her daughter's husband, who was also dying. (She loved her son-in-law as much as she loved her daughter and they both always said that when one died the other would follow...they would go together and two days after he passed she did as well).
As with all deaths, the realization that she and my uncle would no longer be with us was extremely difficult for all of us to deal with but with time, we all came to know that they were in a much better place, no longer suffering. It is then that you finally let go. I still see her in my minds eye from time to time with that sweet little smile and the tilt of her head. It's almost as if I can hear her talking to me, whispering that she is waiting for all of us, that we must move on and make the best of life that we can and I smile back in my mind's eye and I can see her once again just the way I used to see her as a child with that sweet smile upon her face.