Lately, I can’t hold a tune and my cooking is just a bit off. This happens whenever I’m sad. And despite, a truly fantastic holiday season, I find myself sifting back through the past. Here’s why.
My Grandma died in November at 94 years old, but I only learned of it in my Mom’s Christmas card (our only form of contact.) I had been dreading my Mom’s Christmas card because I worried that my Grandma would quickly follow my Grandfather into the grave. And she did.
My Grandparents had an extraordinary love, the passionate kind that you read about in romance novels, and they celebrated 74 years of marriage together before my Grandpa died. I remember watching them as a child, how when their eyes locked everyone else in the room disappeared and wanting THAT when I grew up.
Grandpa and Grandma’s father’s were friends and they grew up together. They married on my Grandfather’s 18th birthday and bought their new home and property for $1,200. My Grandpa worked as an ironworker with his Dad and father-in-law and they were all happy. Then the cloud of war changed all that. Grandpa was drafted into the Army to fight in the war leaving my Grandma at home pregnant with my uncle. She moved back home onto her parent's farm and rented their house out.
Four years later, Grandpa returned home to a son that didn’t know him and in-laws that didn’t want their daughter and grandson to leave. But leave they did, back to their home to resume their normal life that war had fractured. He discovered that his Mom had disposed of all his things that he had stored at her home because she thought that he would die in the war. Grandpa returned to work as an ironworker and Grandma once more tried to learn how to cook only for three instead of a house full of hungry farmers.
Time passed and my Mom was born and they added rooms to their tiny home and eventually dug out a basement. In the blink of an eye, their children were grown and had kids of their own. Grandpa retired and they travelled.
My Grandparents grew up during the depression, experienced the popular boom of the automobile, remembered getting their first family radio, first refrigerator, TV, washer and dryer, dishwasher, saw man landing on the moon, 8 track tapes, microwaves, VCRs, space shuttles, cell phones, and computers. They saw it all. And when I prodded them about it their gaze would turn inward and they’d talk about listening to the radio shows with their families while growing up. Then, my Grandma would pop a joke about how much she loved her household appliances.
My Grandma taught me how to curse, grow tomatoes, and make a mean tomato and bacon sandwich. I have the same middle name as she did and my hands look just like hers. I’d like to think that I learned the best from her, and yet I feel looking back, like her life was an unknown continent to me.
I’m grateful that I saw how she loved my Grandpa. Even though he teased her about the time that she had accidentally cold cocked him in the face with the refrigerator door and laid him out. But, love is like that sometimes. Sometimes, BAM! It just knocks you over.
I just wish that I could have kissed her soft crumpled face one last time before she reunited with my Grandpa. And whenever I dream of them, they look young and happy together.