I miss my grandmother.
I’ve thought about that a lot most recently. Maybe it’s because it’s the holiday season, maybe it’s because my kids are getting older or maybe it’s just simply because I didn’t get as much time with her as I would have liked.
My mom is one of 12 children. She was number 11 in the birth order. Back in the day she was what they called a “change of life” baby. Not to be confused with a “midlife crisis” or any of the other catch phrases we all know so well.
After 10 healthy and happy children my grandmother thought she was “done” with babies. That is until my mom was born, shortly followed by my uncle. A cool dozen.
All that being said, my grandmother was older when she gave birth to my mom. My mom was one of those kids with nieces and nephews older than her. By the time I came along, my grandmother had lived a full life.
She was an amazing grandma. You know the type you see in movies or read about in books. She baked homemade bread, let us help her bake cookies and spoiled us all as much as she could. I have 26 maternal cousins, that’s not just a lot of spoiling; it’s also a lot of love. We’re our own type of Heinz 57/Irish Clan, I’m grateful for that.
My grandmother passed just three months prior to my ninth birthday. She was my best friend and the first loss I can recall.
As an only child and the daughter of a single mom, Grandma was a very big part of my life from the day I was born. We were lucky that way. Prior to reaching school age, when my mom would work, I would be with Grandma. Not everyone has that good fortune; I recognize that now more than ever and was equally grateful when my mom was able to do the same for my two blessings.
As I type this, I can still see her face. She’s the only grandparent I’ve ever known and how lucky am I that she was the best at it.
I have no bad stories of my grandma.
Not to be mistaken, this isn’t the classic, “when they pass we only remember the good stuff.” With my grandmother, Edith Elizabeth (Kirkpatrick) White, there was only good stuff. She loved her children, her children loved her and as is customary she adored each and every one of her 26 grandchildren and we adored her just as much.
Now, with a cancer battle behind me, a few health hiccups with my mother as well and a coming year with a little more uncertainty I can’t help but reflect as well as focus on how precious time is.
This holiday season, I’ve been spent my free time as if it were a million dollars. What I mean by that is, if I had a million dollars I’d be smart about its spending. Not to be wasted or misused. Sharing it through worthy charitable organizations as well as blessing my family and friends if so needed.
Maybe a million dollars isn’t a good analogy for this point, perhaps a rare sapphire more appropriate.
This holiday season I’ve made a point to just pause things a bit and see that friend I miss, go to lunch with my mom or take my kids on a day trip with a few friends.
One weekend in the middle of all the holiday hustle and bustle I even declined all party invitations and went to the coast with my mom and daughter for a few days. It was magical and my daughter is still telling stories of how silly her Memaw and mom were after a little wine and some relaxation. This will now be an annual tradition.
Oh sure, the house in turn is not as decorated as I had initially intended and no, I won’t be trying to pull it all off in the next few days. Why? Well, because who really cares? It’s not the stuff and the fluff of the holiday season that my family will remember; it’s the time and the memories.
That’s what I realize most this holiday season.
It’s hard when people we love are missing from the merriment. As I shared at the start I had just short of nine years with my grandma, but I have memories which can fill pages and pages with text.
That, my friends, is the truest of all blessings and gifts.
My wish for each of you in the coming weeks and into the New Year; you don’t lose sight of the value of memories made over things given. I know I sure haven’t.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 209-847-3021.