It's been a bad year for us in terms of grandparents.
My paternal grandfather passed away in September. Ryan's last remaining grandparent, his maternal grandmother Grandma Wanda, passed away in April. And my maternal grandmother Marge passed away last week, having made it two weeks past her 90th birthday. Grandma Wanda was also 90 when she died.
I have been fortunate to have had a tremendous amount of time with my grandparents. I still had all four of them till just before my college graduation. The four of them are all distinct personalities in mind. My maternal grandfather, Don, who passed away in 1992, was the sweetest man I have ever known, and he always made me feel special and adored, even the time I pulled his dentures out of his pocket when I was sitting on his lap after dinner one night. My paternal grandfather, Ed, was more gruff and distant, but I have fond memories of the running joke we had about whether or not he liked peanut butter cookies when I was a little girl, and I came appreciate his terrific sense of humor as I grew up. My paternal grandmother, Shirley, or as we call her, Nanny, who is now the only grandparent I have left, has been a bundle of quilt-making, sweets-offering, bulk-cooking energy for my entire life. Last week she had a stroke and injured herself in a couple of falls, as if another bit of evidence that old age is cruel was needed.
My Grandma Marge is the grandparent I've known probably the best. I've spent the most time with her, and her decline in the last several years of her life is the one I have been closest witness to. She always thanked me for coming to see her when I went to visit her, and my parents usually did too, as though it was a favor I was doing for all of them. I never saw it that way. This was, after all, the woman who never once forgot my birthday, who not only bought me Christmas presents but wanted to make sure I had exactly what I wanted waiting under the tree for me every year, who liked to take care of me when I was a little girl and who was just as happy to see me once I was an adult. She never let me pay for lunch, even in the last year when she could barely sign the credit card slip.
Despite what must sound like a materialistic nature to our relationship, she wasn't just some old lady who bought me stuff. It wasn't the stuff so much as the fact that she wanted to give it to me. Knowing that she wanted the best for me made it even more painful to watch her decline into a state where every day was a struggle.
Rest in peace, Grandma. I love you.