Wednesday, January 13, 2016

100

Today,  my Grandma turns 100 years old. Today, the matriarch of our family celebrates an entire century of life. Today and every day, I thank God that we've had her with us for so long.
When I see my Grandma, I see music and birds and laughter. I see the memories of a hundred years etched in the lines on her face. I see the two of us sitting in her chair while she read to me, I see her making me egg salad sandwiches, I see her cutting my hair in the bathroom. I don't see a woman who is a hundred years old - I just see my grandma.
I was a little girl when I learned how to use a telephone. I learned how to use it by calling my Grandma every single day. I don't remember what our conversations were about, probably the piano or my schoolwork, but I do remember that every conversation ended with us saying to each other, at the same time, "I love you more more moremoremoremoremore!"

My Grandma has seen a lot in her hundred years. (It's a hundred years, there's a lot to see!) She's seen wars, a depression, a recession, inventions, and so much more. She's walked in the Rose Parade, played the clarinet in massive music halls, and worked in Beverly Hills. She gave up a scholarship to go to college so she could stay at home and take care of her parents.

And she makes the best egg salad sandwiches I've ever tasted.

She does crossword puzzles constantly and solves them all (even the Sunday New York Times), and answers correctly on Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune nightly. It's pretty impressive if you ask me.


But, she is a hundred years old. That doesn't come without its difficulties. She says she always feels terrible, but there's no reason for that except for her age. I imagine this would be frustrating for most people, to feel weak and to have difficulty walking and doing things for yourself when you've never had any trouble with that before, so I try to understand where she's coming from. It's hard though, because she still wants to act like an 80 year old, or a 50 year old. She still wants to be able to clean her home, and stand up on stools to get a book off the top shelf, or drive herself to get a perm. She wants to be able to play with her only (for now) great-grandchild the way she always played with us, with energy and enthusiasm and zest, but the truth is that she just can't.

She can't get on the floor and play make believe with Baby Kate, so she sits in a overstuffed recliner and plays with her that way. She can't pick Baby Kate up, so she let's people try to convince a 2 month old to sit still for 5 minutes with Great Grandma (it works about as well as baptizing a cat).


When Keith and I got engaged, one of the first things Grandma said to me was, "Oh, I hope I make it to the wedding!" It's hard to hear her talk like that. To hear her talk about every big event with a hint of trepidation, because she doesn't know if she'll wake up tomorrow. I used to try and reason with her to get her to stop talking like that by saying, "Grandma, I could get hit by a bus tomorrow - nobody knows how long they have," but it didn't work, and I understand. She's 100 and I'm 27, and it's just different.



The thing I hear her say the most now is, "Oh, I don't know why God let me live so long!" I always reply with, "I don't know why either, Grandma, and I don't care why. I'm just glad he has!" And I am. I am so very glad, and I tell her that whenever we talk. I know that one day she won't be here anymore, but to think about just breaks my heart, and I can't even go there. Sometimes, when our family is all together, my aunt and I will both look at my Grandma and then look at each other, and both of our eyes fill with tears, because we're both so grateful that she's still here, and we're trying not to picture life without her.


I've always been amazed by her, and I always will be amazed by her. She loves family more than anyone I know, and I'm blessed to have had her as a role model for my whole life. She has always been proud of her family, and it's clear that nothing was more important to her (except Jesus).
 



Lately, she's been falling a lot more, and I've been scared. She has one of those fancy Life Alert buttons that has come in handy many times, and it's a good thing. She took a fall the morning after Christmas, right before our whole family was supposed to go over there. Tensions were high and she opted to miss the festivities and just stay in bed and rest. When Keith and I were getting ready to leave, my aunt told me to go in there and tell her goodbye, and the way she said it was so somber. When I walked in, she almost disappeared in the bed, she was so tiny. She was sleeping and was so bundled that I couldn't see any movement, and I started to cry. But when I touched her shoulder, she woke up, and her eyes lit up when she saw it was me.

"Merry Christmas, Grandma," I told her softly.
"Merry Christmas, Sug," she said with a smile. ("Sug" is short for "sugar.") "It was a nice Christmas, wasn't it?"
We talked about how nice it had been to all be together, and I told her it was time for me to go.
"Well, are you coming over for lunch next week?" She asked, and I gently reminded her that I don't live in San Luis anymore, that I lived on a mountain with my husband.
"Oh, that's right," she said. "Are you happy?"
"I'm very happy, and I hope you are too," I replied. And then I hugged her, told her I loved her, and walked out.
It's true: I hope she's happy. I hope she feels loved, because she is so loved. I hope she knows how important she is to all of us, and how much we all look up to her. I hope she feels celebrated, and special, because she is.
So, Grandma, happy birthday to you. Happy birthday and I love you, and I'm so looking forward to celebrating you with everyone this weekend. You and I have always had a special bond, and I will never forget that or stop telling people about it. Thank you for always believing in me and always offering a comforting hug or some sage advice. Thank you for teaching us, by example, how important family is, and for being such a joy in my life. Thank you for teaching me what hard work looks like, and for letting me stay up late and eat popsicles when I stayed at your house as a child. Thank you for always picking up the phone when I call, and for always being so happy to hear my voice. I love you forever...
...more.

17 comments:

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  2. What a beautiful post - happy birthday to your beautiful Grandma! You are super lucky to have had her in your life for so long, but she is also lucky to have you. I work in a care home with older people and one of the most heartbreaking things is seeing our residents reach these milestones with no family to help them celebrate. It really makes me appreciate how important family is!

    Jess xo | The Indigo Hours

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  3. I'm not an emotional person, but this definitely gave me a lump in my throat! My grandmother was my favorite person in the whole world, and I lost her when I was 13. (Never knew my grandfathers, and my other grandmother and I were never close.) It still makes me sad sometimes when I think about all of the things she missed out on. She never got to see my brother and I graduate. She'll never get to meet our future spouses or future children. And then I think about how sad it is that my future spouse will never get to meet HER either. She was the kind of person who never met a stranger, and everyone loved her.

    You are incredibly lucky to still have your grandmother around, and as someone who doesn't, it makes me happy to know that you REALIZE how lucky you are, ya know? And MY LORD, she doesn't LOOK like she's even close to being 100! So be sure to ask her about her anti aging secrets. The world wants to know.

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  4. This is such a beautiful post. Your grandma is absolutely beautiful! This post reminded me of my own grandma. They are such special people that leave such huge imprints in our hearts.

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  5. Well, Lord, J, you've about made me cry. My Papa used to call us Sug, and hearing you say it today made me reminisce. There's nothing more special than grandparents. Happy birthday, Grandma. You're lucky you have each other, J.

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  6. This totally made me tear up!! Sounds like such a wonderful and special relationship!! Happy Birthday to your grandma! :)

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  7. Omg, I am in tears! It is clear what a beautiful relationship you have with your grandmother and I hope she's still here for many more years! Happy Birthday to her!

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  8. This made me cry. I'm so glad that you appreciate her and tell everyone about it. I think I took for granted having grandparents and a great grandparent when I was growing up, and I can hardly believe it when I tell people I only have one grandfather left.

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  9. oh my soul. tears and love for one hundred years. these moment are so special and so heart-breaking and so all the things, right? you did so good with your words for her and i know she's happy because YOU and BABY KATE.

    happy birthday to ALL OF YOU because this is BIG. :)

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  10. Such a sweet post! Blessings to your grandmother and happy birthday wishes as well!

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  11. Wow, your grandma sounds like an amazing woman. And living a full life this long is such an accomplishment in itself! Happy birthday to her!

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  12. I'm sitting here at work bawling my eyes out. What an amazing and beautiful woman. Happiest of Birthdays to her!

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  13. This is full of so much emotion! Your grandma sounds like quite an incredible lady. You're so lucky to have had her in your life for such a long time! Happy birthday to her!!

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  14. I'm crying, this is so sweet and perfect. Your grandma is wonderful, and you are wonderful. That picture of y'all laughing together at the wedding..... be still my heart.

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