I suppose this is a tribute to my sweet Grandma.  After living her entire adult life with diabetes, her kidneys are failing and her body grows more frail everyday.  She has withered away to a mere 115 pounds and sleeps around the clock, only to wake up for a few bites to eat or to say hello to a visitor.  The doctors don’t give her long to live.  They say when she stops eating, she’ll go quickly.  We beg her to eat, but her weak body would simply rather rest.  The boys and I met my brother in Greenwood yesterday, where my grandma lives in an assisted living facility.  We had a nice visit.  Something about the presence of children brings out life in the eyes of the eldery.  They brighten up and smile from ear to ear as my three little boys walk slowly down the hall, staring at all the men and women in their electric scooters and wheel chairs.  I can’t help but wonder who they all used to be.  Doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers?  All that is left is a frail wrinkley body and a small amount of silver hair.  Some are missing limbs, some can hardly hold their own head up, but almost all of them have lost the sparkle in their eyes.  They look lonely and defeated.  I don’t want my grandma to die alone.  On my way to Greenwood, my mind wandered back 15-20 years when I used to spend weeks at a time at her house during the summer.  She was the best cook I’d ever known.  I think I always went back home with a little belly from all of her delicious baked goods and extravagent breakfasts.  I remember waking up to the smell of buttermilk biscuits and Grandma’s famous chocolate gravy….oh my goodness.  🙂

Her house always smelled good and was always clean.  She had plastic fruit and silk plants in every nook and cranny of her little three bedroom house.  Aside from her family, my Grandma had a great love for jewelry and shoes.  She had a large jewelry armoire that she would let me explore everytime I visited.  She always gave me the freedom to try on every ring, every bracelet, and every necklace.  Her earrings were too heavy for my young ears, so I would simply pick up every pair and hold them up to my ears in front of the mirror, imagining how beautiful she must look as she wears each pair.  Her closet was lined with shoe boxes.  Front to back, top to bottom, and side to side, shoe boxes everywhere.  She has a small foot and I always LOVED it when I found a pair that fit my feet!   Often times she’d let me keep a pair of her shoes or a piece of her jewelry.  You see, I was not only the first girl on either side of the family, but I was also the very first grandchild to my Grandma and Papa (my dad’s side of the family).  I grew up always feeling like the favorite.  I’m sure my brother and two other cousins felt the same way.  Grandma and Papa had such a special way of treating us that always made us feel like “the only child”. 

I can remember Grandma chasing my brother and cousin Michael around the house with the fly swatter when they’d done something worthy of punishment.  I remember countless trips to the mall, where Grandma would get her hair done and then buy me a new outfit.  I was with my Grandma at the Hot Springs mall when I tasted my first Chick-fil-A sandwich.  That was the beginning of a lifelong, bitter sweet relationship…with Chick-fil-A! 🙂

I used to sit in the living room with Grandma and help her fold clothes while we watched soap operas.  Her cookie jar was always full.  At Christmas time, she had a large, plastic, light-up nativity scene that she would put in the front yard by the bird feeder.  I loved her house at Christmas.  There were always SO many gifts and she always had funky lights on her tree, like the kind that blinked to the beat of Christmas carols.  I grew up thinking Grandma and Papa were rich.  In reality, they were simply a middle class couple.  My Grandpa was retired from the army and was working as a manager for Roadway, and my grandma often did odd jobs, like work in the gift wrap department at a local department store.  They always had good food on the table and showered us with gifts for every occasion, or for no reason at all.  They were/are the best grandparents in the whole world.  I wish I hadn’t waited so long to tell them just how much I love them and just how much they mean to me. 

Our visit yesterday was a sweet one.  I plan to go back by myself sometime next week.  Although she’s had poor quality of life for the last couple of years, I hate to see her go and dread the day that I receive that news.  I find joy and peace knowing that she’ll have a brand new body as she enters the gates of heaven and I’ll see her again in eternity. 

God Bless you, Grandma.  I love you forever.