"Thank you for being a friend,
Travel down the road and back again.
Your heart is true,
You're a pal and a confidante."
-"Golden Girls" theme song
When I was a little girl, my sister, Christine, and I would sometimes sleep over our grandparent's house. We called it staying at the "hotel" and it was a treat! Often we would first go out for Chinese food (I would drink too much tea and eat too many noodles with duck sauce- my favorite!) and then go back to Grandma and Grandy's cozy "hotel." We would change into pajamas and Grandy would open the bed tucked away in the sofa in the den. Then Grandma would put fresh smelling sheets on the bed and at 9:00, we would watch "Golden Girls" together.
My childhood is filled with memories of my grandparents- their porch in the summer, Christmas Eves around their sparkling tree, Sunday dinners, and celebrations of all kinds. Being picked up from half-days of school by our grandparents and going to Burger King. School concerts and awards nights with them beaming in the crowd.
When I was 20 years old, my Grandy passed away. It had been a horrible summer where he got sicker and sicker laying in the hospital. Everyone was working but me, a college student, so I would pick up my Grandma and drive her to the hospital to be with Grandy. We drove through Eisenhower Park and ate frozen yogurt in the hospital cafe. I kept trying to see the silver lining and believed Grandy could get better, but Grandma knew he wouldn't. They had such a beautiful love story and losing him was so painful for her, but what I will remember always is her courage and the way she kept on going and kept on seeking out happy times. Right before we walked down the aisle at my Grandy's funeral, when the music started and the tears welled and we almost lost it, she said that we had to be strong like Jackie Kennedy was strong when the President died. She walked down the aisle like a lady.
Sixteen years my Grandma lived without my Grandy. In those years, I graduated from college and graduate school. My sister graduated from law school. There were engagements and weddings and babies born and christened. My Grandma got to be a Great Grandma to three children. There were weddings and parties and birthdays and holidays. There were Wednesday dinners, with delicious salads to start and something different to eat each week, lovingly prepared. There were countless phone calls and chats on the porch. There was advice and guidance and wisdom.
Today my Grandma passed away. She went into the hospital last Tuesday and less than a week later she has passed away. She was 89 years old. She had shopped on QVC for our Christmas gifts and had wrapped them before getting sick. I wanted to go after work today to say goodbye but by the time my class holiday party had ended, she had already passed away. Here's what I would have said to her if I had the chance:
Grandma, thank you for being my friend. Thank you for being there for me through everything, for having a happy nature and being so kind and generous to everyone. Thank you for all the sleepovers, all the dinners, all the chats, all the love. Thank you for adding so much joy to my life. I will always be grateful for you, always love you, never forget you. I hope that you are dancing in Heaven with Grandy and surrounded by all your family and friends that you had to say goodbye to in life. I can't imagine how happy you would be to see your parents again and your grandparents! Your brother, your cousins, your best friends. They surely missed you the way we will miss you every single day.