My grandmother was a beautiful woman. She had dark eyes that laughed and dark hair that curled, my father has the same hair... I was always so sad I didn't inherit it when I was a child (ok, ok, still am a bit). When I was growing up I thought my grandmother one of the most elegant and powerful people in the universe, that view never wavered. It wasn't power in the sense you are probably thinking, it was this confidence she always had... this grace. And this knowledge that anything she wanted you to try, you would do it and gladly, because her praise was golden. She had a beautiful soul. A soul that shone out from her tiny body, (her height, or lack thereof, is one thing I did inherit from her) and took over a room with its goodness. She charmed people. Everyone. Anyone. (This is something my father inherited and I like to think they gave to me, but well, let's not delude ourselves too much). She had a sweet, clear voice that was soft but could be edged with steel when needed... the result of being a mother, grandmother, and great grandmother many times over perhaps... or perhaps that was something that was innately a part of her. She was one of the strongest women I have ever and will ever know, of that I have no doubt.
When I was five years old, we moved to Washington from San Diego. For a while we stayed with my grandmother. This is a fuzzy time for me as I was so young. Certain things stand out in my memory though. Grandma introducing me to tea, neither of my parents like it, I love it. I have never lived without tea in my house since. She taught me that part of the beauty tea is the simple ritual of it... boiling the water (preferably in a kettle), steeping the tea bag, inhaling its wonderful fragrance... and then the first sip. Drinking it slowly is preferable, though not too slow, because it is best before it gets cold. I also remember playing with my cousin Andrew, we were closest in age, I think Andrew was my first best friend. I don't know if he even remembers that though lol.
Grandma loved elephants (actually, my maternal grandmother did as well, but that is a story for another day). She had them everywhere in her houses. Silly elephants, elegant elephants... elephants of metal, of plastic, of cloth. She had a collection of pictures of them even in the bathroom (not to mention various elephant soap dispensers over the years), elephant waste baskets, elephant towels... I loved them. One of my favorite parts of visiting her was seeing the elephants. And I am so grateful that I will never be able to see one without thinking of her, that is a gift. She also loved the color red, splashes of it here, there... and when she moved her entire living room was painted red.
I have always been a voracious reader, I believe that is something I inherited from her. My husband pointed it out after we visited her last, that her bookshelves reminded him of my own. A mishmosh of fantasy, history, science fiction, classics, romance, biographies... when I was in elementary school she gave me a lovely set of the Chronicles of Narnia. I still have them. And they are still some of my favorite books. My love of reading, of books, of the written word and writing itself, is what led me to get my degree in English. That love is also one of the things that got me through my somewhat nomadic life growing up. And I know Grandma was proud that I have also passed that love on to my children, both my kindergartener and my second grader love to read already. My three year old doesn't read on his own yet, but he does love to be read to.
Grandma fought cancer for over twenty years. She was strong though, a fighter, she wanted to see her grandchildren grow up. And she did. Several of us have children of our own now and I am so glad she got to meet my children, to share her love with them. I refuse to say that she lost the fight to cancer, I won't. I will say, instead, that she was ready to go home. She lived a long and very full life, in spite of its difficulties, she never wavered. She was an incredible mother, grandmother, woman, and friend. She taught me so many things, so very many, I couldn't possibly list them all here. The one that hit me most this morning is a great love for family. I cherish my children and I love my parents, my brother, grandparents, my aunts, my uncles, cousins... all of them. I may not tell them often, I may not see them often, but I hope they all know that here, in my heart, I am thinking of them and loving them, every single day.
I will miss you, Grandma Suzy, so very very much. But I know that you are not truly gone, you live on in your children, your grandchildren... in me. And in my children. Julie has your laugh and wrinkles her nose the way you did. Addy has your gracefulness. Toby's eyes laugh like yours. Thank you, for everything. I love you.