Posts with a title like that always used to be kids' birthdays. But my grandma has been gone 6 months. 180 days ago I got the 7 am call from my mom. Kids were out of school that Friday too. Half a year. She has missed an entire summer and now it’s well into fall. I still start to talk about her like she’s still alive.
So many things I have wanted to tell her. At least once or twice a week I think of something that I would have called or emailed her about, from Audrey’s first loose tooth to compliment someone gave me at work. One of the kids says something funny or reads a road sign while driving, a strongly worded letter is in order, or when someone has a heartbreak or disappointment and I have to reference “THEY WOULD BE A FOOL not to hire you, date you, etc.”
Mom does it too, most recently when she found a Goldenberg’s Peanut Chew under her desk. She’s been doing pretty well keeping busy, and the busy summer sailing schedule helped. But she misses her—not the worry and the stress of her health, not the numerous trips to the doctor. Just the mama part.
I wish we had done a better family memorial. We had the lovely singalong at the Willows, but I wish the cousins and my sister had been able to come. Maybe we will do a reunion in April for her 95th. I know she wouldn’t have wanted us to bother, but I just feel like we didn’t do her justice. I have a book brewing inside somewhere, and maybe now with the job change, I will find my creative outlet to get it started.
When we turn the pages on the photo calendar, there’s NuNu. When Audrey uses her bossiest tone, there she is. When we tell stories about when Lance or Audrey were babies, she always comes up. We uncover the poncho she knitted for Audrey, the scarves and hats she made us, the jewelry and knickknacks gracing Audrey’s room, and always the gold hangers in the closet. I use her serving dishes and cocktail forks, knowing full well she would still be appalled at my lack of entertaining. We play in the “Lucille Sheldon Living Room that No One Will Use,” now that it has a piano and new windows, so I think she’d be proud at the upgrade.
She’s on the wallpaper on the ipad screen, talking with Lance with the finger pointed in the air. I can’t bear to change it. Our last videos with her are still on the camera and my blog is stuck on the post from her 93rd birthday, and I couldn't bring myself to update it until now. Old emails turn up, and she’s on the emergency list of numbers on the kitchen cabinet. I need to get the group photo framed. I’m not sure how the 6 months went so quickly. It feels like I just saw her last week.
She’d be so proud of Lance learning his clarinet so quickly, for Audrey turning into such a fantastic reader, and for me finally quitting my job and making the brave move to do something else. She would say “Something where they will pay you what you’re worth,” but whatever. She’s missing so much good stuff. She would have had lots to say about my dad visiting Emily this summer, but she would have been glad it happened after all these years. She would be so thrilled to see Alison growing up looking exactly like Emily, and she would have been incensed that Brady didn’t go to kindergarten just because the other kids were older. “He’d be just that much smarter and better than all the rest of them,” I can hear her saying.
I have missed her input on the issues in Syria that I wouldn’t fully understand, on the government shutdown, and there will be another election without her wisdom. I will miss hearing her voice if Hilary Clinton runs for President in 2016. When we met with our financial advisor, I told him that she had died, and then we talked about the stock we had from her. She would not be proud that I have never learned the “language of money,” but would be proud that I was listening to her advice. We haven’t been up to Bellingham that much, mostly with a busy schedule and mom and Steve’s summer travel, but the times we have been there, it just feels like something is missing. I’ve missed her holding my hand, saying “Hello, sweetheart” in her gravelly voice. And I really miss seeing her eyes light up when she sees the kids. No matter how poorly she was feeling over the last 8 years, she always dialed it up for the kids.
Whenever I talk about her, and tell someone “When my grandma died last spring at 94,” everyone is always so amazed. Wow, 94. But I always thought she’d just be 95 and then 96 and on and on. 94 sounded not quite old enough. But I know how lucky I am. I see and hear stories all the time about grandmothers dying at 77 and 82, and I know if that had been her, she never would have moved here, the kids wouldn’t have known her, and I wouldn’t have had those 8 precious years.
When I am stuck behind an elderly woman inching along with her walker or her cart at Costco or the grocery store, I am no longer so impatient. Often I see the mother/daughter combination that reminds me of my mom and grandma. Usually the daughter (in her 60s or 70s) smiles apologetically, knowing they are slowing me down. I try to just slow down and smile at them now, wanting to hug them both and whisper to the impatient daughter that she’s lucky to be there, even if it’s excruciating to trudge carefully through the store for 2 hours to get milk and eggs or to look at the price of every lipstick at Rite Aid.
She has a new great-grandbaby on the way at my cousin’s house, and I will miss seeing her face light up at the mention of them. When I do the photo calendar at the end of the year, I will have to deal with the pictures, update the Christmas card list, and have the year come to an end.
Mom gave me her menorah, so we will light candles in her honor this year, trying to remember on the crazy year where Hanukah and Thanksgiving start at the same time.
We miss you NuNu…