My Grandmother passed away today. This is the woman who probably shaped my life the most out of anyone who had a chance to get their 2 cents in. This is the woman who had the courage to save my life and rescue me from her own daughter. This is the woman who taught me how to be a card carrying member of the suck it up club. This is the woman who taught me what survival is.
She was born during the depression on a farm in Nebraska. Told me stories about riding her horse bareback to the one room school house she shared with her 2 sisters and a brother. Moved to Los Angeles with her family when she was a teenager. She survived being widowed twice. The first time as a young woman alone with a small child in the 1950's. The second time at the hands of a criminal who chose my unsuspecting Grandfather as his victim. She survived her daughter's torment through drug addiction, prison and eventual suicide. She raised an amazing son, my Uncle, who has every lick of this woman's tenacity, intelligence and logic. This woman was tough. She never felt sorry for herself. She took what life handed her and kept on going.
When I lived with her, I was a young child and could not fully appreciate the courage it took for a 50 something year old woman to take her 2 grandchildren and flee to the other end of the state for their safety. I didn't fully appreciate what it took to take us to the park alone, or to the beach, or on crazy vacation adventure. After I had children of my own I told her how much more I understood and that I appreciated what she had given me during my childhood.
She bought my brother and I bikes and told us to come home when the street lights came on. I came home with the pad of my toe almost completely severed. Not one word about me not wearing proper shoes. She put me in the tub, rinsed it and taped it up. I wouldn't have dreamed of complaining that I couldn't walk because of it. One time when I came home crying that some boy had pushed me into the water we had been playing around she stood out front listening to me then turned around, grabbed a big stick off the wood pile and handed it to me. That was it. No talking. I knew what to do. I chased that boy 3 blocks before he hid behind his pregnant mother's legs.
She would tell us to grab our shoes and head out to the car. We were going exploring. Sometimes that would constitute a meandering drive around the city. Sometimes we would find ourselves checking into a hotel hundreds of miles away. She wasn't an outdoorsy woman, but took us to all the local beaches and parks often. She inspired in me a lifelong love and respect of nature without ever saying a word.
Her conversations were always lively. She loved to play the devil's advocate. To this day I don't know which party she voted for because she would argue with anyone no matter who they were supporting. She was very generous but liked to help people her own way. When I was in college she would tell me to take her to the grocery store because she hated the damn new scanners and didn't want to unload her own cart like a damn fool. When I went with her she would make me push my own cart which she would fill and pay for without a word. Half the time I thought both carts were for her. I can't tell you how many times I was with her when she would put a homeless person in our car, drive them to the local all-you-can-eat buffet and pay for their meal.
When I feel the tenacity flowing through my blood. When I get something handed to me that resembles a pile of shit and I push it aside and keep on going, I think of her. When I try my best to be witty and it rolls off as pure sarcasm I remember all the conversations we would have while I was growing up where I was taught the fine art of sarcasm and it's many implementations.
What I value in myself I see came from her. My stubbornness, my problem solving skills, my whacked sense of adventure, my lack of domestic skills, my twisted sense of humor and my Spock-like logical take on life all come from this woman who I was lucky enough to call my Grandma.
I'll miss you Grandma. Thanks for making me who I am.