Monday, November 21, 2011

My Grandma

My Grandma Ellen is a remarkable and strong woman. She's been, and continues to be an inspiration to me.

Grandma Ellen is the grand parent that I've probably seen the most in my life. Her husband died when I was younger, and my other two grandparents lived in Florida. We'd visit them when we could (most every summer) but throughout the year Grandma Ellen was the one we'd spend the most time with.

She always came to our events in elementary, middle and high school.
One of my favorite times that Grandma would come to school was for "Grandparent's Day." At our elementary school, we had a fundraiser-run on grandparent's day, and while I'm not one to run, I did. Why? Well, for one I got a free t-shirt. Second, everyone else was running, so naturally I conformed. But, mostly it was because after we finished our run, Grandma always took us kids to Baker's Square for lunch.

Oh, and the pies they had! I wish I could describe them to you... Grandma loved the Baker's Square pies. :) They had cherry pies, french silk pies, pecan pies, blueberry pies, banana cream pies...pies, pies, pies! My siblings and I would hover over the dessert case and practically drool at the blissful bakery on display.

Whenever we'd travel to her condo (30 minutes is a fairly long drive for young children), we would rush up to the outer door, and one of us would get to push the intercom buzzer. After a minute we'd hear her friendly voice..."Hello??" which would be greeted with a frenzied chorus of "Grandma!!!"

When she buzzed us in we'd always run down the hallway, into the open courtyard and we'd see her standing at her door smiling at us. We never could beat her, she was always waiting with that beautiful smile.

Grandma loved chocolate. She was actually a freakin' addict. Don't believe me? She liked chocolate so much, she owned a Hershey's sweater. I kid you not. A brown sweater with the Hershey's logo on it. I told you, addict. Yet, with so many things in this world to be addicted to, chocolate is certainly the sweetest.

When she moved into the assisted living and we were cleaning out the condo we found stashes all over the freakin' condo. A bag of chocolates in a drawer here. A couple bars in a cabinet there. Up on the shelves. Yep, it was pretty fantastic.

Grandma was the first person that I had a serious conversation about death with. In middle school when I started thinking about it a lot, I realized that it scared the shit out of me. I remember after one weekend when I stayed at her house and she was driving me back home I asked her: "Grandma, are you afraid to die?"

A question asked in innocence, naivety and fear.

She said no. I asked her, "What about heaven and hell? Don't you ever worry about that?" My Grandma went on to tell me that God is good, that he takes care of us and that we have to have faith that he will look out for us in the next life, as well as this life.

While I became antagonistic toward Christianity in the future, that conversation stayed with me. The calm way that she talked about not fearing death, the confidence she said she had in God and his goodness, I knew she meant it with all her heart. That conversation stuck.

It was at that point that, as a young boy, I decided my Grandma wasn't afraid of anything...

Sometimes Grandma would take us kids to Chuck-E-Cheese. Chuck-E-Cheese is a child's dream, at least....for me it was. Running around in a giant, noisy playground. Tokens, tickets, pizza, giant mice singing and dancing...okay that last part freaked me out, but dreams are often strange and bizarre things.

I loved those little vacations.

All my girlfriends loved my Grandma. No, seriously, all of them. Grandma has always been a social butterfly. I haven't met a single person she couldn't charm. Everyone at her church knew her. She frequented the senior clubhouse to play her card games, and she always walked away with a decent amount of pennies. Even when she was moved to the assisted living facility, there wasn't one staff member who didn't know who Ellen was. And when she moved to a different unit, she wasted no time making new friends.

Now I know where I get it from. ;)

Grandma loved Cousin's subs.

Grandma always rocked the rollers too. Stereotypical? Yes, but she definitely could've started a real trend whenever she wore those rollers. Grandma's always been a stylish woman. One of those people who can make something out of nothing when it came to outfits. She always dressed modest, yet classy. She was very well put together.

As with most residents of Wisconsin, Grandma loved the Packers, Brewers and Badgers. Every Sunday during football season she would pull up in her green and gold. She loved the Packers the most. Win or lose, it didn't matter, she was a true fan. She was also a true fan of family. She was always our number one supporter, and not just my siblings and me, but to all her children and grandkids.

We have been blessed to have her on our team. She is the best fan anyone could ask for.

Grandma always embodied a spirit of optimism. She genuinely loved life, experience and relationship. She's left an incredible legacy, and she has taught me so much in this life that words cannot even begin to describe what she means to me.

On November 20, 2011, I received a text message from my mother. It said, 'Grandma isn't doing so well, it may be best to come back home for a time like this.' We only have a few days left, but I'm not scared anymore. For myself, or for her. We all have our time, and we are all in the hands of one who will always take care of us...

I have no regrets, and I don't think Grandma does either.

She's left an imprint on our lives, and isn't that why we're here? Isn't that why we live day in, day out, and work, sweat, cry, bleed and laugh? We all hope to leave something behind. We want to live in a way that people will look back and remember fondly the times we were able to share.

My Grandma did just that.

She's a hero to me. She's mentored me, she's comforted me, and she's given me life lessons that continue to help me stand today, even when the going gets rough.

I love you so much Grandma. I hope that I can live every day taking moments as they come, and making the most of them. I pray that I won't, even for a second, lose a second that could be spent appreciating those who mean the most to me.

We all have this opportunity. Legacy. Don't let it pass. Don't let someone leave without telling them you love them. We all have our time, so what are we going to do with the minutes we've been given?


Julie said...

I'm glad to hear that you will remember your Grandma so fondly and that she was such an influential person in your life, my Grandma is the same in mine :)

I wish you and your family peace through this time.

Josh said...

That's awesome to hear, I honestly think that so much of my life would be drastically different if not for my grandma. I wish you could've known her, she was a fantastic woman!

Enjoy and treasure every moment with your grandmother. :)

Thank you so much my friend!