Monday, December 31, 2012

Memories of Grandma

While Rod and I were at the Frankfort Fall Festival this year, I saw signs that read "Grandma & Grandpa's House: Where cousins meet to become friends". It's true in a way I'm certain only a grandma really realizes. They set up an environment where their grandchildren feel loved and secure and carefree. This was what Grandma did for her grandchildren.

Grandma's house was a place where kids could be kids. Of course, we had to be careful around the glass coffee table, but overall, it was our playground. I even had my one broken bone at Grandma's house falling off their old porch swing. For me, their house really was a place where my cousins became my friends.

When we would arrive for the family gathering (usually the last ones to show up), Grandma was always busy in the kitchen. I went straight to the playroom in search of my cousins. After all, there was a Christmas play to produce and star in. I had cousins that needed a little convincing to participate. Seeing as how Grandma was the only one who really enjoyed sitting through those productions anyway, we won't talk much about them.

As I helped my own daughter get ready to go to my mother-in-law's house on Christmas morning, I reflected on my excitement as a child. As a mother, I feel rushed, longing for a little more time at home. My daughters don't. They look forward to Grandma's house with anticipation. It was the same way for me as a kid. Going to Grandma's on Christmas Day was what we did.

I remember the way one of her cabinets clinked and clanked as we walked past it. It's a reminder of the glasses that were always filled with apple juice for every meal. Adults at one table and children at the other, it was just shy of a Norman Rockwell moment for this granddaughter.

Grandma and Grandpa sitting together in front of the fireplace that produced a false glow gave me a sense of warmth anyway. If we weren't receiving bathrobes, Kelly and I were gifted games for which we were well past the prime. From the perception of a child, however, our family was ideal.

As an adult, I realize our family is a lot like every other family out there - imperfect - each one with their own bit of crazy. Still, I cherish the way Grandma (with a little help from Hallmark) loved us well. We could always count on her to remember our birthdays with a greeting card. She kept track of each one of us and attended as many birthday parties as she physically could.

With so many in the world today feeling unloved, unwanted and uncared for, Grandma's love was a gift. You see it in every picture where she is holding a grandchild. That smile that shown with love for each one of us. I think she knew this was her responsibility as a Grandma: to give her grandchildren the gift of love.

As I drove from my mom's house to Aunt Sheree's the other day, I realized how very disconnected I am from Mokena. It started when I got married and moved to Joliet. This place became just a little less of "home" for me. When Grandpa died, I felt it again. The way Wolf Road made me feel sadness instead of excitement the way it did as a child. And even more so, when my dad died. Now again, with Grandma. This place just isn't home for me anymore.

Many of you have already the thoughts I wrote down for Grandma on her birthday. I find it a little ironic where my thoughts were considering how Grandma truly went Home on Christmas Day. I just felt the need to thank Grandma and share with her my hope. As the reality of adulthood brings memories that aren't so wonderful, I hope you will take the time to reflect on the good memories Grandma left us. They really are in abundance.

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