It is a lot of thinking.
I also think about loss. About losing someone you love, but sifting through all the amazing memories with a fond, if quivering and tear-filled, smile.
At these times, I mostly think about my grandma.
I think about caroling through the neighborhood with our candles on Christmas Eve.
I think about her letting me pick out her earrings for a hair appointment. I picked the most dangly in her collection, not realizing they would impede the salon process. And she wore them.
I think about getting a sweatshirt (white with bright colored accents, very early 90’s) from her for Christmas when I lived in Texas and not wearing it (except on Christmas day) or washing it for years because it smelled like her.
I think about cuddling in her Lazy-Boy, rocking back and forth, my grandma running her manicured fingers up and down my arm and through my hair.
I think about seeing this different, frail woman in the hospital but breaking down because she was still my grandma. About crying through the funeral as my aunt sang Going Home for Christmas.
I think about still receiving a gift from her the Christmas following her death because she loved Christmas so much that she started shopping and wrapping for next year right when this year's celebration was over.
I’ve come to realize the full impact she has had on my life. She was me. She was what I wanted to be. In 4th grade, I wanted to be a nurse. Why? Because she was a nurse.
For 10 years I have been writing and re-writing what I consider our story. It is my favorite memory of my grandmother. So here it is again, and probably not for the last time:
Growing up, I was surrounded by all boy cousins. I mostly loved this. I got to play their boy games, but I was still a girl. A princess. During afternoons in the summer, my grandma would fill her watermelon glass with iced tea and ice cubes, turn the radio on to the country station and float calmly around the above-ground pool in the backyard.
The pool was usually filled with raucous children (including myself), playing a multitude of games which always ended with getting in trouble for splashing too much pool water over the side. All this rowdiness was gone when my grandma had her time in the pool.
No one was allowed in. Except me.
I would drape my towel over one of the patio chairs and quickly (those cinderblocks get hot in the sun), but quietly run over to the pool and climb up the ladder. Slowly lowering myself into the water I would glide around the pool as my grandma did the same, letting her manicured hands dip lazily in and out of the water as if she had all the time in the world.
If you ever wonder why I: sometimes listen to old-school country; wear that ring that only fits on my thumb; love Country Time lemonade and making my own iced tea; paint my nails a shockingly bright shade of pink; wear those gold lame sandals once a year; am always on the lookout for a new locket or religious medallion; and love Christmas so much – well it is because of my grandma. Because even after all these years, it makes me feel close to her. It makes me remember just being with her in that pool. And sometimes we need those memories.
"She was thinking: And so I was wrong after all. That's exactly what he's doing, saying: You can expect just so much from me. She felt completely rejected."