Yesterday I learned that my grandmother had passed away on Sunday night. She died quietly in her sleep, with no warning at all. She was still young for that side of the family, a spry and healthy woman who lived independently, still did all her own cooking and baking, and cooked for the family as well. She joked with me about her “robotic parts”, but she went dancing, out to bingo and had a circle of friends who no doubt miss her dearly. She still camped, still travelled, still hugged.
It is kind of funny that when I think back to all my memories of her, that it is food that comes to mind the most, especially her Christmas dinner spreads. The family would all gather at the hotel she and my grandpa owned in the tiny little town of Fairy Glen (yes, it’s a real place) and she would have set up the banquet tables in the bar, all covered with this red and white plastic table cloth she brought out at Christmas. The tables would be covered with enough food to feed an army – at least one turkey, one ham and one roast. Two or three kinds of potatoes, a wide slew of veggies and a jellied salad or two. Add to that some cabbage rolls and perogies, all homemade of course, and four or five different dessert squares. She’d been working on the meal for two days or more, and it was great. Granted, we won’t speak of her spaghetti sauce or her chilli – grandma thought that black pepper was an exotic spice.
She reminded me of the importance of family, and urged me to reconnect with my birth father and all the family on that side, whom I had not seen since I was a toddler and had no memory of. She was so happy and so proud when I told her that I had contacted my dad and that we were forging a new relationship that she cried on the phone with me.
She was tough, but forgiving. She spanked me as a child (I am quite certain I deserved it) but hugged me afterwards. She yelled at my brothers and I when we drove her crazy on one of our many summer stays at her home, but she is the same lady who chased us through the hallways, cackling an evil laugh as she chased us with her false teeth in hand.
She took me berry picking for blueberries and raspberries, gardening in one of her three gardens (one of which would be considered a farm field by Nova Scotia standards), bottle picking and shopping. She read to me as a child, and let me cry on her lap when I fell down or when I had one of my frequent ear infections… her heating pad (best thing when you have an ear infection) smelled like lemons.
Grandma was fond of telling me over and over again that once upon a time I held a record of some sort for the most grandmothers. She has a picture from the newspaper, and if memory serves, there are nine or ten ladies in that picture with me, all grandmothers, great-grandmothers or even great-great grandmothers.
She was so happy when she became a great-grandmother, and I will always cherish the memories of her visiting us in Halifax when our oldest son was still in diapers, and again just a couple of years ago. She doted on my boys when we travelled back to Saskatchewan last summer, though she didn’t chase them with her false teeth – that will always be mine.
She told me she loved me and was proud of me every time we spoke.
The last words I spoke to her are the same ones I would say again if she could hear me. “I love you grandma, and I miss you.”