Every so often you'll hear me refer to my grandparents that I've lost but you may not quite know the story.
Now if you think back a little bit, you do know part of their story... just not fully....
Today would have been my grandma's birthday (and it makes me sad to write this post! but she lived a great life so it makes it a little more tolerable!)
My grandma was born into a family right around the depression. Her mother and father already had one child, a son and she was their second and last. She was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her father was an immigrant from Greece who came through Ellis Island. When he came through with his siblings, he decided that his name sounded to foreign and gave up his identity so that he could be a "True" American. He eventually wound up in Michigan and married my great grandmother, therefore my grandmother was born.
When she was 5 he came down with pneumonia a month before the FDA had approved the use of Penicillin and he died. Her mother went on to re-marry. I remember her telling me it was difficult growing up but we all know she survived :).
She graduated high school and went on to the University of Michigan for what is equivalent now to the Dental Hygienist program. She was the only female in her college program. Her brother was working to put her through school and during summer breaks she would work at a local truck stop diner. The summer right before her last year of college my grandpa walked in. It must have been love at first sight because they were married 6 weeks later on Labor Day weekend, September 4, 1954 (ooo does that date semi ring a bell? 56 years later her granddaughter was married).
She went into a pre-made family, my grandpa had been married once before and had a 13 year old son. My grandpa was the manager of a Rock Quarry so my grandma had to choose, stay in school, or marry my grandpa because the distance between the school and where my grandpa worked was too far for either of them to drive every day. So she gave up her education for my grandfather. That absolutely made her mother and her brother furious at her. Her mother couldn't believe why she would want to marry such a "homely" man who already had a son. Her brother refused to speak to her for years.
They went on to raise 2 beautiful girls, my mom and 3 years later my aunt. Her step son grew up and got married and 3 years after his 2nd half sister was born, he and his wife had their first followed 3 years later by their second. So there was my mom, 3 years later my aunt, 3 years later Wilbur's first child and 3 years later Wilbur's second child. When my grandmother would take all four kids to the store people would think she had 4 children.
As the years went by when my mother was around 6 and my aunt was 3 they bought them each a pony. One pony was very tame and gentle, the other not so much. Wilbur was a bronc rider through the years so he told my grandparents that he would break the pony to ride for my aunt. He tried really hard all one afternoon to no avail. Eventually my grandpa went and bought an Arabian Stud to breed the ponies. Followed by an Arabian mare with foal at her side. This was the beginning of the horse business for my grandparents.
In the 70's, my grandpa had decided he'd had enough of the cold Michigan winters so he and my grandparents started traveling all over the country trying to find a new place to live, when they wound up in rural southwest Missouri.
I was always told my grandma didn't go anywhere without my grandpa, although she did have her drivers license. The day that I was born, my parents called to say they were headed to the hospital. My grandpa decided he was going to go into town and get a tire fixed before heading to the hospital. My grandma showed up at the hospital without him and made my mom wonder, "Where's Dad?" My grandma said that grandpa was busy with his tire and she wasn't about to miss the birth of her granddaughter.
My grandma was the bargain hunter. My favorite was the time she went into Famous Barr and bought a purse for nothing. Between discounts and senior citizen discounts, etc, they gave her the purse. And if you wanted it, she'd find it and hunt it out until she found the best deal.
In 2006 though, around Christmas time bad things happened. She had a sore in her mouth that wouldn't go away. My aunt told her to go to the doctor. Eventually when she did, we found out she had oral cancer. On September 11, 2007 my grandma left this world. Too this day it still makes me sad. I remember months that she was sick. We'd go over to see her. The night before she passed away my mom's job had taken her to China and Mom was telling her a story but said when she got home she'd finish the story since it was so expensive to talk from China. I got off work and went home to find my dad home sick in bed so I went out to do chores and then I was headed over to check on my grandparents. My dad said to tell my grandma he'd see her tomorrow when he was feeling better. When I got there some of her friends were there and she was sure all about telling the stories.
We had the home health care people with her and my grandpa helping out and the nurse stumbled across my dad's cell phone number. She called my dad (this was all earlier in the day) and said I'm not supposed to do this but I know your wife is in China. You need to get her and your sister in law up here, your mother in law isn't going to make it much longer.
I went home that night after visiting with my grandma (I didn't know about the phone call) thinking my grandma was doing a little better. I got up the next morning to go to work and my dad had already left for work. For some weird reason I had a feeling I needed to go into work early so I was there by 7am. At 8am a friend/co-worker asked how my grandma was and I was telling about talking to her the night before. Now normally I have my cell phone on vibrate at work but for some reason that day I forgot to silence it. I heard my dad's special ringtone going off and I was like, "Oh my dad's calling." Then it hit me and I knew it was bad.
My dad tried to get a flight into Chicago where my mom's China flight was taking her for a layover but never could get it accomplished. He didn't want her to have to sit in the Chicago airport by herself.
My grandma was one of my best friends. She was always there for me whether it was to go shopping or to wash sheep for a fair. And that day was when I realized how much of an honor it was to be around my grandparents as much and as long as I was!
A little over 3 years later I still miss her. My husband hears stories about her all the time. I wish she could have met him because I know she would have LOVED him. He is always what she wished for me.
Last year on what would have been her birthday, my husband and I went to dinner at one of her favorite restaurants in her honor. This year my husband and my parents have planned something as well, I'm not sure what it is but I know she would have loved it!
So if you are a grandparent, never miss any opportunity you have to spend time with your grandchild. If you are a parent, please never throw a fit if your child wants to see their grandparent. If you still have grandparents around, take every opportunity you have to spend time with them. They are a great generation that we are starting to lose rather fast!