I've always tried to think of the most memorable Christmas I've had and I've only ever been able to think of interesting presents that we've been given: a trip to Disney, tickets to see The Lion King Broadway. It's kind of annoyed me that I've never been able to think of something less secular, less surface.
This isn't what I was hoping for.
My grandma, the one I was named after, the one who lives two hours away from school (part of the reason I decided to go to that school) just passed away this morning.
I've never had to deal with a death even close to this close to home. I've been to two funerals in my entire life. One of them I don't remember, the other one was a lady in our ward and I didn't really know her that well (yet I still cried like a broken faucet). So I'm... well, it hasn't sunk in, that's for sure.
So I've decided that, at this time, I'm going to share some memories with you.
For five years when I was young, we lived just an hour away from them so we saw them a lot. Before I was in school and over the summer we would go over to help clean the house every Wednesday. Well, it was my mom cleaning and I'd either play in the children's room or spend time with Grandma in her room. We'd watch movies on her big water bed, snuggle with the cats, go through her copious amounts of jewelry (I'd usually leave with some that she'd given me), etc. I believe the one time that I've seen Sleeping Beauty was on that bed with her. To this day, most of my jewelry is Grandma jewelry. I owe my love of cats to her.
We never have family reunions on my dad's side, not official ones anyway since it's just him and his sister and then his mom. We used to have family reunions on my mom's side every single year. Not so much since the grandparents started spending so much time in the hospital, but... It was always on the east coast beach. Either North Carolina or South Carolina. Grandma would go out deep into the ocean with all us cousins and ride the waves, teaching us how best to not get toppled and how easy it is to float in the salty water. Who cares about boogey boards and other contraptions they make to make beach fun more fun? My favorite part about going to the beach is riding the waves way out deep when my feet can't touch the floor of the ocean anymore.
A few years ago when I was still in high school I flew out to Virginia to spend a month alone with my grandparents and work in the garden for them. It was then that the child-like love for them started to fade. Spending so much time with them without the filter of my parents and siblings revealed a lot of their faults to me and I got annoyed. Plus, you know, I was a teenager. This trip was also the first time I visited the campus that I now call home. At that time I was very determined to be a BYU student and was appalled when, for example, SVU's auditorium proved to be smaller than my high school's. However, Grandma was determined (and wouldn't let it down until I actually decided to go to SVU) that I was going to SVU. It was perfect for me, etc., etc. I hated it.
I remember the first time they were able to make it to one of my events at SVU. It was a choir concert, the first one of the Spring Semester. They took me out for dinner and I was really excited in the days leading up to the concert for them to be there. However, about a week before I had stayed up until something like four in the morning chatting online with someone I happened to have had a ginormous crush on. This news was passed on to my grandparents by my mom and, therefore, it came up within the first fifteen minutes that they arrived. I was given a small lecture about not falling behind on studies by my grandma, etc., etc. and spent the rest of the ride to dinner biting my tongue and really, really annoyed.
I was going to spend Spring Break with a friend who lived fifteen minutes away from my grandparents but it didn't work out, so I spent it with my grandparents. At the time Grandma was in the hospital for the bajillioneth time and Grandpa was still working. It was miserable. Most of the time I spent at the hospital visiting Grandma was spent on my computer, writing, avoiding topics of conversation with her.
I spent this last Thanksgiving up there. I have cousins who live there as well, so I was determined to stay at cousins' house rather than Grandma and Grandpa's. Just before I had gone through a really hard and complicated breakup. The relationship was short but had moved extremely fast and had made an impression on my grandparents which was obvious by the first conversation I had with them that break. Grandpa asked me if I "had a boyfriend this week" and Grandma made the ex sound like a villain. I quickly corrected her and told her the situation was complicated.
The next day I was able to spend a good amount of time with just the two of them and took the opportunity to explain the situation to them. To my surprise not only was I able to tell the whole story and where my head and heart was at at the time with little interruption, but also they seemed to understand. Grandma even gave me some real heartfelt advice, giving examples from her and Grandpa's courtship and my own parents' courtship.
And that was the last time I talked to her. Despite my frustrations and annoyances with her, the last conversation I had with her was a good, serious one that left me feeling satisfied and happy. I am so eternally grateful for that.
Merry Christmas, Grandma. I know this is going to be your best one yet. We miss you. We love you.
Hugs And Kisses!