My Great Grandparents were always more like second parents to me. I grew up in the country, just outside of town. They lived about a mile down the road, so I would escape to their house whenever I could! Truly, there is nothing like the love of a grandma!
Whenever we were sick, we went to their house. As I got older my mom confessed that she knew I occasionally faked being sick to go to their house. She said she didn’t mind, because when she was young she did the same. They were her mother’s parents.
My mom’s mother was named Bonnie. My Grandma Bonnie died at the age of thirty-five of ovarian cancer. My mom was in high school at the time, and the death of her mother left her very little time to grow up. She instantly had to become the caretaker of her younger siblings, a sense of responsibility that has never disappeared.
My Great Grandma would call me her “little Bonnie.” Bonnie was the youngest of four children, and her death echoed through the family, leaving a hole never to be filled.
I was the oldest grandchild of Grandma Bonnie. Whether I was like Grandma Bonnie or not, to my Great Grandma, I was just like her. She saw in me a connection to the daughter she lost years before. She saw in me her little girl.
She gave me love and guidance. She taught me to use my imagination, and creativity. She taught me kindness, and strength. My Great Grandma was a force of nature, a woman that was my best friend. I think about her every day and am so thankful for the time I got to spend with her.
I will never forget the house my Great Grandparents lived in. The smell of my favorite breakfast cooking when I woke up after our sleepovers: toast with butter and jelly, sausage, orange juice and prune juice. Yes, I said it, prune juice. I always struggled with constipation, and the moment I stepped into their house I had to have a swig of prune juice. At least I got to follow it with a Little Debbie! To this day I love the taste of prune juice!
I remember burying feathers in the dirt, so that we could watch a bird grow. I remember walking around their property, and down to the stop sign and back, talking like we were old friends, sharing secrets, sharing memories.
I remember how Great Grandpa kept gum in the top drawer of his dresser, and the smell of peppermint upon opening it. I remember how Great Grandma would do under-doggies while pushing me on the swing (if you don’t know, an under-doggie is when you push someone on the swing and run under the swing at the same time). I remember playing restaurant and dolls, playing chicken scratch (dominoes), and making pizzas from scratch together. My mom is an excellent baker, but I learned to cook at my Great Grandma’s house.
But the day that will always stick out in my mind is another memory all together. I remember being four years old, and Great Grandma taking me into her bedroom. She and Great Grandpa believed in the power of prayer, and at that moment, she encouraged me to kneel beside the bed and told me we were going to pray. I asked why, and she told me that I had to have a surgery.
I am sure my parents told me this as well, but I only remember this conversation with my Great Grandma. She told me that I had a lump that if they did not take it out would keep my arm from growing. In that moment she gently held my right arm and prayed.
She and my Great Aunt Frances (my Grandma Bonnie’s older sister) came to the hospital with my parents. I don’t remember much. I remember a using crayons to color in a Cinderella coloring book. I remember laying on the bed and the nurse wheeling me to surgery. It is such an odd feeling laying in a bed and being moved throughout a hospital. A feeling I will never get used to.
The nurse asked me which hand was being operated on, my right or left. I guessed right and was correct. That day I learned the difference between right and left, with a scar as a reminder.
I remember telling Dr. Albert that I was tired, and him looking at me admitting he was too. I did not find out until I was older that my surgery had been scheduled for the morning, but a terrible car accident called Dr. Albert’s attention away, and he wasn’t able to get to me until that evening.
My parents held back tears as I complained of being hungry and thirsty, unable to give me anything until after surgery. My dad left the room as I cried out for him when they put the IV in my hand. I cannot imagine how they felt. I was always the one having surgery, always the one sick. They were the ones watching, helpless. I cannot even imagine.
That was my first surgery, if you don’t count having my adenoids removed and tubes put in twice (both of which never stopped me from having countless ear infections in my life). That was my first major surgery. And that moment in my Great Grandma’s bedroom, as she held my arm and prayed, is a moment I will never forget.
What are some of your favorite memories of your grandparents? Don’t forget to comment or reach out to me on:
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