I was close to my grandma. Growing up, my sister and cousins and I spent many long summer days on her farm. When we moved to the city and my parents were in the process of splitting up, she came in to the city and brought us out to the farm every weekend for months. Later, when I had my driver’s license and lived on my own, and she lived in town, I’d often pack up for the weekend and go out to visit Grandma. We played lots of canasta, other card games too, but mostly canasta; she was always ready to play the rubber, (that’s what we called the tie-breaker game), and so was I.
My grandma was a woman of few words, and she didn’t mince the ones she spoke either. She often had these great, quippy responses that we called “zingers.” Example:
- Grandma’s friend: Hello Alma, how are you?
- Grandma: I’m all right.
- Friend: You look good.
- Grandma: Well, good-looking people always do all right!
Grandma had a way of expressing herself without coming across judgmental; she wasn’t judgmental––unless it was all going on in her head, but I couldn’t tell. She knew a lot but never ever was a know-it-all. I think she tucked a lot away in her heart, kept her deepest thoughts just between herself and God. She was just a brilliant woman.
I don’t think I ever saw her cry; she was always jolly. But, having lost two children, both at young ages, I know she knew heartache too. Maybe she was what people would call stoic, I think she anchored herself and pulled strength from her Lord and saviour, Jesus Christ. As long as I knew her, she woke up every morning, had half a banana and some bran flakes and read her Bible. Maybe the breakfast changed, but I don’t think the Bible reading ever faltered. We sang Rock of Ages at her funeral; she had told one of us cousins that it was her favourite hymn.
My grandpa passed away, about 20 years before her, he had been ill for some time––Parkinson’s, so I know she was ready to say goodbye, maybe that’s why she didn’t cry. Maybe she did cry, later on when no one but God could see her. I don’t think she was “hiding it” so much as that was just the way she was. She laid her hand on top of his at the viewing, and I just felt like she was saying “I’ll see you when I get there.” (His headstone reads, “I will meet you in the morning.”)
It’s going on six years since she passed away. It was early in the morning on Friday, February 13, 2015. I have always liked Friday the 13th. I know some people are superstitious, but it has never felt like bad luck to me. I was fortunate to have seen her and said goodbye the afternoon before, along with two of my girls, and two of my aunts. (I say fortunate because now in 2020, lots of older people are dying alone since no one will let their family members in to see them because of this “pandemic”–– the injustice of it all is sickening.) She passed away peacefully in her sleep and we got to say “I love you” to each other before she left.
Her health had declined significantly in her last 5 years, and I think it had finally come to a point where death was a welcome relief for her. She had said to me years before that, maybe 15 years earlier or so, that she was ready whenever the Good Lord wanted to take her. Not that she wanted to die, just that she was totally at peace with it.
I have nothing but good memories of her. She taught me my first card game at just 5 or 6 years old––it was Skip-Bo, “Come here,” she said, “I’m gonna teach you a game.”
I miss her. Especially at Christmas time and other holidays. Grandma’s house was always the gathering place. Easter, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, her birthday, and Christmas. And anytime in between–-she always said, “sure, come on over,” anytime I called her up to see if I could come out to spend a night or two. I remember her laugh. I remember she always had this wonderfully mischievous look on her face and a smile she just couldn’t contain whenever she was trying to get away with something in a card game or a silly joke that she may have been trying to keep to herself. I remember many sunny days climbing trees at the farm, eating as many crab apples as we desired, picking kohlrabi fresh from the garden; family gatherings, and the legendary “Liverball” (maybe that’s another story for another time).
I am SO LUCKY to have had her in my life. A person like her is a game changer, for sure.