Friday, December 13, 2013
My Grandma Lorene
Today is my grandmother Lorene's 90th birthday. This past November also marked 10 years since we lost her. I don't remember the exact day that she passed away. My sister tells me that it was November 22nd. I remember we put her in the ground just shortly before Thanksgiving, and spent the Holiday season plagued with sadness and missing an important person in our small family.
I was ten years old when this happened. I remember coming back from a night of trick or treating on Halloween - dressed as Hermione Granger, wearing a brand new costume that my grandma had sewn me - and my father was on the porch handing out candy. He told my mom that my grandmother had called an ambulance and gone to the hospital. My mom sent me over to the neighbors' for the night and they closed up the house to trick or treaters and went to the hospital. I never saw my grandmother again. She died some weeks later, and I remember those last remaining weeks and being the most awful weeks of my life. No one was ever home and reports from the hospital were not bright. I wasn't allowed to go see her. I was told that you had to be 13 or the hospital wouldn't let me in. I'm not sure if that is true, but that is what I remember being told. My sister went to visit her. I stayed home.
I went to a lot of funerals growing up. A lot of my family was older and in ill health. My first funeral was my grandmother Dee's when I was five years old. I don't remember much of it, but I do remember my grandmother Lorene hugging my Uncle Scott, and she was so tiny and frail next to him, and I just remember my five year old self watching that hug and cherishing it because it seemed so genuine and so comforting to watch my grandmother and my uncle hug like that. But of all the funerals I went to, my grandmother Lorene's was the worst. It was probably the worst day of my life. I only remember parts of it. I remember a boy I'm somehow related to played his Gameboy at the wake and he had the sound on and I wanted to take it and break it into a million pieces because I was hurting so much and he was just playing his Gameboy with all these annoying sound effects. I remember when we stood at her casket and the man at the funeral home closed it and it was the last time I ever saw her. I remember standing alone afterwards and crying so hard and no one noticed except my older cousin, and he just stared at me from across the room not knowing what to do as my eyes filled with tears and he just became a blur. I remember getting in the car for the funeral procession and my older sister turned to me and said, "You didn't even cry. You're not even sad. You don't care that grandma is dead." Those words still haunt me to this day, not because they're true but because she thought that and she said that to me just minutes before we put my grandma to rest six feet under.
My grandmother was my best friend growing up. She always babysat my sister and me when my parents went out on dates. These were always my favourite nights. We watched this show called Early Edition and ate Marie Calendar penne and alfredo. And when my sister was in school and my mom was busy, my grandma would meet my bus after preschool and we'd spend the day at her apartment. She only lived a few blocks from me and her place smelled like baby powder and old books. It was the best, warmest smell in the world. In a cabinet under the TV was a wealth of crayons and puzzles and games to play. And in her closet she kept these two ratty baby dolls that had belonged to my mother. They were hideous and awful but I loved playing with them. My grandmother made a Depression Era specialty called Breadcrumb Noodles and always served it to me on my Rainbow Brite plate. She was an avid sewer and always made me my pajamas and Halloween costumes. I was eagerly awaiting my opportunity to make a quilt with my grandmother, like my sister had done, but she passed away before I had that opportunity. I still haven't made a quilt, but I sew on her machine regularly. I keep a photo of her near me. She hated having her photo taken and I remember her ducking out of photos at every family gathering. This one that I'm sharing today is my favourite. It is her senior photo from when she was in high school. Her senior quote was, "If silence really was golden, then I'd be a millionaire!"
I still miss my grandmother every day. Halloween is always a dark day for me, plagued with this memory from when I was 10 that resulted in me losing my best companion. I wish that she could have been around for her 90th birthday, or at least a few more. She was my last surviving grandparent. I miss her stories and her wisdom and her thoughtfulness, and although I'm glad that she's with her husband and her brother and parents now, I wish that she was still here with me.