Right now, I’m waiting on the call to tell me that my Grandma has passed on to eternity. The waiting is having me on edge. This Grandma is so special to me. I’m going to do my best to do justice to her in this post.
Birdie Grandma as we called her (because she fed the birds everyday) is my maternal grandmother. Every summer we would go to her and Birdie Grandad’s house for our summer vacation. Dad was military and we lived at most two days away. It was always a joy to finally arrive. Grandaddy would come out to greet us as we pulled into the driveway and Grandma would holler out the kitchen window that supper was about to be put on and to hurry up. Grandma normally had pot roast or something else along that line for our first dinner there.
That night, Grandma and Grandaddy would break out the Klondike bars for me and my sister. It was the only time we ever got those as children. I have since purchased them for myself as an adult, and really, they aren’t the same. I don’t know what it was, but the Klondike’s at Grandma’s tasted a million times better.
Everyday, we would eat lunch during the noon news program. I’d help set it out, leftovers from the night before, cold cuts, cheese, bread, dressings and pickles. A lot of times Grandma would make her antipasto salad. We’d eat while watching the noon news. Every year, there were the same commercials during it. I can still sing the song for the advertisement for Sea World at Niagra Falls. And every time I hear the song Stayin’ Alive, I cringe. When I was in Jr. High and High School, that was the theme song for the state’s senior driver’s education program. Nothing like seeing a bunch of very very old people (they were to me at that time) dressed to the nines in ballroom dancing formals doing the dance Saturday Night Fever to the Bee Gees. After lunch was over, we would get out the sandwich cookies. As no lunch was ever complete without a cup of hot tea and three cookies to dip it in. It was there I learned of the immense joy of dipping my Oreos into hot tea. A special treat for me to this day.
During our summer stays, we would help Grandma do the laundry and hang it out to dry. She taught us how to iron. She would iron everything. If it went on your body, it would get the iron run over it. Jeans, T shirts, dress clothes, it didn’t matter. She would even iron Grandaddy’s handkerchiefs. She let us practice on those. To this day, I can still iron a nice pleat in a blue cotton hanky.
Grandma would entertain us during church and would sush us if we got too loud. Grandaddy would haul out his supply of hard candy. After church, we would all go to eat at Perkins. In fact, I have never eaten at a Perkins without them. I don’t know if I would be able
The summer between eighth grade and my freshman year of high school, she and Grandaddy took us out to Holmes County Ohio. She knew of my love of the Amish. It was a great trip. We went to Lehman’s Hardware, got to eat out (believe me, a treat as we never did that at home) and just had fun driving around and staying the night in a hotel. We even got to see the Reminisce Horses.
When I didn’t get to go to Gettysburg on my eighth grade trip, the summer after my freshman year she and Grandaddy took us. They came out for my sister’s eighth grade graduation and took us home with them for a month before our parents were going to come out. That trip was a TON of fun.
The first Sunday in August was the family reunion for her side of the family. This reunion was held up in the mountains, about three hours from their home. It was about an hour to the nearest real town. Her family reunion was a blast. We were up in the mountains far away from all civilization (or so it seemed). Everyone brought at least two dishes (and believe me, all the extended family could cook) and at noon the food would be rolled out. If you left hungry, it was your own fault. All the Great-Aunts would diet for this one day of engorgement. There was a creek that ran through the field we would be at. Someone always brought along a huge watermelon and set it in the creek early in the morning so it would chill and be ready for the hot lazy afternoon. All of us kids were told that the watermelon would grow in the creek, special for us, and would just appear there on that one day fully grown. As kids, we believed it. We would catch crawdads and minnows in that creek. Grandma was always watching for us as she was terrified of us drowning. We never did. I’m sure she got tired of being shown all of our most recent catches though. We would leave close to supper time, not wanting to eat for a few days. We always stopped on the way home in a tiny little town at this particular ice cream shop to get a cone for our supper. I can’t remember the name of it now. I haven’t been to that reunion in fifteen years. I can’t imagine going without Grandma.
Grandma would listen to me and talk to me like I was a real person, not some little kid that was bugging her. She was always interested in what I was doing and how I was getting along. For my first birthday away from home when I went to college, she sent me a huge chocolate chip cookie (the size of a pizza) to share.
Grandma taught me how to crochet. A skill I hope to pass on to my daughters someday. It is a skill I still use, not as often as I would like to though. She also taught me how to do plastic canvass. I much preferred the crocheting. In fact, I dug out the last afghan she made me and put it on my bed recently. I’m no where near as good at crocheting as she was. Maybe I will be someday.
Grandma told us stories of when she was a little girl. I loved that. My favorite was when she was about five, she and her family were getting ready to head to town. She had to use the necessary, so she ran out back to the outhouse and was getting ready to go in when she saw Tippy, the family dog there with her. So, she let Tippy in with her. She thought that maybe Tippy had to go to the bathroom too, so she opened the hole next to hers and plopped the dog on top. Well, the dog was smaller than the seat and went right through. Her dad had to go in the house, change clothes and go and dig the dog out of the nastiest part of an outhouse. They didn’t make it to town that day. She could never tell this story without laughing so hard she cried.
It is strange to know that in the next week or so, my Grandma will no longer be with us. That moves my generation (my sister and I along with my uncle’s children) up a rung on the generational ladder, so to speak. We are no longer the children of the family. Most of us have families of our own now with children. Our parents are the grandparents. It will be our turn next. I never thought about this while I was growing up. Someday, if the Lord tarries, it will be me telling stories to my grandchildren. About what it was like growing up as a military brat, the day my sister and I decided to build trench in the tent we had made to use the restroom, just like we were camping in the wilderness and all the trouble we got into for it. Of getting to go on vacation to our grandparents. The Bugs and the Beans have met Grandma, however, they are so young I doubt they will remember it. I am going to have to tell them stories of when I was a little girl and we went to their Great-Grandma’s house. I hope that through the stories, it will be like they knew her.
I’m thankful that I’ve had my grandparent’s so long. I know most people aren’t so blessed. I’ve had my Grandma for thirty years of my life now and I can’t imagine life without her. May she live on in our stories. And I look forward to the day when I get to see her again in heaven..