I hope she knew how much I loved her. I think she did. If we’re fortunate we grow up close to our grandparents and I was very fortunate that way. As I look at picture albums and see her younger, it doesn’t make much sense. She seemed to always be Grandma, an indeterminate age, just always the same to me for nearly fifty years.
She’s the young girl in this postcard from 1914 and although I only knew her as Grandma, I can see her in the pretty young Valentine girl she was. It’s something in the slight tilt of her head and her eyes. She’s there.
I hope she wasn’t disappointed in me as I struggled to be first a good grandchild who spent so many days and nights at the farm, then as I was a teenager when I was too busy, and then as I moved far away coming only for short visits slotted in between the comings and goings of my busy life.
There was something comforting in going to visit and as a granddaughter even grown up, I had a sense that nothing in her house should change. We grandchildren felt it was our right to expect the sameness of Grandma’s house. Much like the huge shiny silver Hoover upright vacuum cleaner with the cloth bag that rested in the corner of the family room for thirty years, I grasped at the sameness and continuousness of her house as a foundation. My life could be rocking like a rowboat in a gale but would be centred and calm when I went to her house because there I always found unconditional love.
I hope she knew that I did notice as she and Grandpa walked to the end of the driveway and kept waving and watching me turn the corner leaving them as I started my thousand mile drive home.
“Susie, what would you like to remember me by?” The question she asked me as her house was being sold off piece by piece, memory by memory by a service hired to disassemble lives so she could move into an assisted living arrangement.
I hope she knew that although our visits turned to chatting in the dining room by the plastic covered table, and sitting in the circle of afghan draped recliners in the living area because there was no room beside the twin bed in her little room, I still felt some grounding, some reinforcing of my foundations when I could spend time with her.
And I cried every single time I got in my car and drove away. I miss her.