If I hadn’t grown up with you in my life, I might wonder how the term “grandmother” ever came to be. My friends had grandmothers who wore way too much perfume and seldom visited. What–I wonder–is so grand about that?
No, the best grandmothers are moms, once removed. Because you’re once removed, you and I never fought about me spending too much time on the phone or too little time on homework. That’s not to say that you didn’t teach me anything, or give me a good talking to when I needed it. That you did.
I remember bringing my sewing machine and chosen fabrics to your house. We’d spread out on the dining room table and slowly but surely my first puff quilt came together. There were mistakes along the way, but never once can I think of a time when your patience wavered.
There are other things that I learned from you, but none of them are more important than this: you modeled for me what it means to know God. There were many Sundays on which you picked me up and drove me to church. Confession: I didn’t always want to go. I suspect you knew, though, that a mustard seed is all it takes to grow a faith strong enough to endure even the most mountainous of struggles. I’ve climbed some mountains. I credit you for nurturing my mustard seed.
Last July you and my mom and I sat on a Pinkberry patio in Denver. We were talking about your mom and how she no longer recognized the faces of the people she loves. I told you then that you had better always remember me because it would crush me if ever I looked to you and saw a void in your eyes–if ever my face left yours pained and confused. I’ve had some time to think about that statement and I take it back. Here’s why: the idea of a bond strong enough to transcend the hard realities of aging is a sweet one, though admittedly probably better suited for a Hallmark movie than an actual expectation. I owe you more than that.
More crushing than a void in your eyes would be letting the time slip by without telling you how much you have blessed me, how much I treasure you. When in my memory I play the slideshow of you and I, there exists not a single scene in which you were the one in need. It’s always been me, leaning on you. You live to give.
Never once did I wish for a grandma any different than you.
This month (or maybe the one that follows) I myself will become a grandmother. It feels silly to type it even because how can it be? I don’t know if I will have the same opportunities to watch my little Charlie Rae grow before my eyes–I pray I will. Moreover, though, I pray that as she grows she will come to think of me the same way I think of you. I don’t know how I could ever fill those shoes–I have too many faults–but you’ve given me somewhere to aim.
Know this, Gram: if, God forbid, there ever comes a day when you don’t remember me, I will remember you. And it will be enough for the both of us.