My Grandma Betty died on Sunday.
My Grandma Buttsy, who I can envision clearly, puttering around the kitchen, making mashed potatoes and offering me grape soda.
She once made me a popcorn ball the size of a basketball for my birthday.
She had a garden that was so lovely, so tasty, that I thought for sure her gardening genes were so strong they would automatically be passed on to me. Alas . . .my attempts at gardening will never compare to Grandma Betty's.
Happy Birthday to my Grandma Betty. To Grandma Elizabeth Bird Lake Stablein. Grandma Buttsy. The woman who will always remain in my mind as slightly chubby and jovial and blessed with a head of thick and lovely hair. Seeing her now, light as a child and just as helpless, it is hard to envision her as a bustling busybody shooing the kids out of the kitchen while she adds more butter to the giant bowl of mashed potatoes. Grape soda. Grandma Buttsy always had grape soda on hand for us, even if it was sometimes flat. She loved to watch the news. She taught us how to gamble.
My mother was visiting her mom, my Grandma Betty, at her current nursing home. Every time she visits my Grandma "Buttsy", she usually sends picture texts or videos or random quotes that my Grandma blurts.
Last week she texted me this:
"Some lady at her table just stole her drink and Mom said, “THANK YOU. AND BY THAT, I MEAN THANK YOU FROM ME.” Then she winked at her. ??? Crazy town!!"
I really appreciated my mom using the phrase "Crazy Town" in reference to her mom. For some reason, this tickled me greatly.
So I immediately replied:
Let's root together.
Let's root for Laura.
Let's root for my Grandmas,
Both of them!
Let's root for my cousins, Sally, Angie, and Melanie.
Let's root for my cousins' kids, Jacob, Tony, and Kidd.
Give a shout out to family,
to your sisters and brothers,
to your mothers and fathers.
Thank your friends.
Love on one another.
Let's turn this year around.
I remember going to the memorial service of a family friend at the beginning of the decade. She was a longtime friend of my mom's, and I was not quite to the adult age where you stop noticing adults' ages. I was slightly uncomfortable going, because I had not been to many memorial services, and because she had died of cancer, and because she had children my age and younger. I dressed in dark, somber and appropriate clothing and I sat next to my younger sister, trying not to make eye contact with anyone. It felt very surreal, and of course it was sad, so I withdrew.
I am she as you are she as you are me and we are all together.
We are a community,
I am your sister and your daughter and your mother
and I love you.
You are my brother.
You are my boy.
I will reach my arms out as wide as I can
And I will hug you and your hurt and your joy
As hard as I can and for as long as I can.
Until you shake me off, almost uncomfortably,
because it is hard to know what to do when you are
squeezed that forcefully.
I want you to know that you are beautiful.