A month ago today, my “Mamaw” ( my dad’s mom) passed away.
I’ve been blessed to have had 32 years without a death in my immediate family tree (if that makes sense). Up until last month, I had lived my life with four grandparents. And my Mamaw was part of a two person set… Mamaw and Papaw.
She rode on back of a Honda Gold Wing motorcycle with my Papaw, and they traveled across the nation almost every year. Their last trip was exactly 9 years ago- 4 days from now (the weekend Jared asked me to be his wife.) Their trip ended abruptly, when Mamaw had to have emergency surgery on some part of her bowels and Papaw had to have stints put in one or two of his main arteries- while on the road!! Thankfully they were near my family in Colorado, and they both spent time recovering at my parent’s house. But the Gold Wing went home to Florida on the back of a trailer, and I’m pretty sure that was its last road trip.
I was her oldest grandchild… and couldn’t say M’ma so, I was responsible for Mamaw.
She loved cats, Garfield, and turquoise and silver jewelry. Her Christmas tree was decorated with southwest flair and chili lights. She made Papaw his dinners and lunches, and the last meal she ever cooked for me was a coke and onion soup pot roast with potatoes… but cooked it in an oven and not a crock pot.
She drank Ocean Spray cranberry juice to help with her bladder, and the only time we had it in our fridge, was when Mamaw and Papaw were coming to visit. And she never ate nuts, cause of the IBS. (Oh the little pieces of information we remember about our family!)
As a child, I was jealous of friends with the stereo-typical, white-haired grandma who baked cookies and wore aprons. Because neither of my grandmothers were like that. And Mamaw definitely wasn’t, but it turns out, that was ok…. even “cool”.
She remembered every single birthday. I always got a birthday card from her and some money. And though this year was probably the first year her card for me was late (in April), she sent money for me and both of my girls, to cover their birthdays too. One of the last things I have from her are my daughter’s names in her handwriting.
When my dad told us she was gone… my mind raced to the last time I had contact with her… I mostly wrote cards and letters to keep in touch, sending updated pictures as my family grew. With the recent birth of our youngest, I had finally sent the birth announcement and family pictures to her within the last two weeks. I breathed a sigh, because I knew she’d gotten them.
Two years before, I had taken my older daughter to Florida to get 4 generation pictures taken. Even though I was scared of the long journey and being a new mom, I KNEW I had to go. And I’m so glad I did. The night I got that photo, we went to Red Lobster for dinner. I watched Papaw help her into the truck after dinner. I remember watching it and knowing I should remember this. (At the time, Papaw’s health was declining rapidly, and I didn’t know if I would see him again.) But as it turns out, that was the last time I saw my Mamaw.
She held my older baby in her arms… and my younger baby’s photo in her hands.
And there is this void… like a puzzle piece missing- that I’ll never find or be able to put into place again, this side of Heaven. It’s uncomfortable. It’s sad. And even though we weren’t the closest example of a grandmother/granddaughter relationship…. her presence and influence are woven throughout my life.
She is missed.