Wednesday, December 29, 2004

My Grandma Was a Superhero

The last time I saw my Grandma before she got sick three years ago, I hugged her goodbye. I used to hug my Grandma all the time. When she was ill with a case of Shingles in 1999, I would go over to her house every day for a few minutes, just to hug her. She said that she was glad that I would come, and that I was the only person who would hug her while she was ailing. When my grandma got sick the last time, I didn't hug her anymore. I was afraid that I would hurt her. One of my greatest regrets in the world is that I didn't hug her every time I visited, and moreso that I didn't make an effort to hug her every day.

My Grandma was patient. You know that she, like the rest of my family, had heard every word of my Grandpa's stories before, time and time again. But she was always listening to, and oftentimes correcting these stories. She never seemed to tire of our immature antics as children, and oftentimes she seemed invigorated by them. She was always willing to play a board game with me, and somehow look past the constant bickering between my brother, sister, and I when we stayed over. When I was little, I couldn't wait to stay over at Grandma's house: to peruse the old comic books; to spend the day playing board games and card games; and to just generally spend time with my grandparents. And of course, if you were staying over at Grandma's, you always wanted to accompany her to the market. You knew that she'd buy you a candy bar or something good, and it was always fun to "be helpful" on her shopping trip.

My Grandma was funny. It was a dry humor, and one that was never expressed often (or often enough). It was amazing that she could make you smile by rolling her eyes at a particularly inane comment, or by making just a little quip here or there. My sister was telling me the other day about how my Grandma won a Miss Piggy impersonation contest. There's a lot to be said about a woman who has the subtle and unsubtle senses of humor down to an artform.

My Grandma was smart. She had shelf after shelf filled with books and novels, and she was always in the middle of one, always had her nose buried inside of one. And she loved puzzles. Whether they were jigsaw puzzles or word puzzles, she seemed to be having the time of her life solving them. She was the spark that ignited my ongoing fascination with crossword puzzles. She and I would oftentimes work on them together, and when I was a teenager, it was not rare for her to call me in hopes that we could conspire to solve a particularly tricky clue.

My Grandma believed in me. She was the one who encouraged me to sing in the Children's Choir at church, back when I had an excellent, girlish singing voice. I was mortified at the possibility of performing in front of the entire church, but it was with my Grandma's help that I was able to conquer my fear. She had faith in me; she believed in me to a fault, I guess. When I was nine, I was a lying little slimeball. I was copying a poem down from a magazine I was reading, and she asked me if I had written it. I, of course, said yes to her, because there wasn't anything in the world I wanted more than her admiration. What a little weiner I was. I broke her trust. But even after the truth came out, she still believed in me, and never stopped.

My Grandma was a great cook. A holiday just wasn't a holiday without her culinary fingerprint on the proceedings. Christmas wasn't complete without her ham dinner, and New Years without her pork and sauerkraut. My Grandma's quiche, which was made as a special treat on New Years Eve, is one of my favorite foods of all time. I'd love eating lunch at her house, always a sandwich (cut in half down the center), potato chips, and a pickle, on those same little rectangular plates. She was always cognizant of our health as children while we ate. She used to make me drink milk with my meals, and she was the only one who could entice me to force that filthy stuff down my throat. Every dinner was a special dinner, and every dinner with her was a sit-down-with-the-family affair. If this family were a house made of toothpicks, she would be the glue.

My Grandma was a superhero. I can't believe how much she did for me and for my parents and for my family, and I can't believe how much she went unrewarded. One time, I was home alone and I managed to slice my finger with a sharp knife while seperating some frozen burger patties. I called my Grandma and Grandpa, and they came over and made sure that my already-blue finger did not fall off. Then to make me feel better, she took me out to eat and we talked. Back in elementary school, I had a habit of faking sick to escape, and most of the time I would go to her house, watch The Wizard of Oz, and just spend the day with her. She would always watch us when my parents had plans, or when they were out of the area. Always to the rescue. And it wasn't just her family. She would give rides to homebound friends, and she was just generally friendly to the point of busting her hump for everybody. My Grandma was always there in a pinch. She would trudge through miles of swamp for anyone, and she never expected anything in return. I've never known another person in the entire world as selfless, beautiful, and saintlike as my Grandma. I miss her, and I will miss her forever.

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