Today is our 9th wedding anniversary. While I have spent a large portion of my day thinking about my hard-working honey and our blissful 9+ years together, I have also been thinking about an important person missing from my life.
I was 11 years old when my Grandma Rita had a heart attack and died. She was just 56 years old and heart disease was known about but certainly not as marketed as well as it is these days. Some days I find myself wishing she would have been able to meet my husband, I know in my heart they would have been kindred spirits. I wonder what parenting advice she would have given me, and I think that she would have helped my mom relax a little more, but truly I don't know.
The Grandma Rita I remember is from a child's perspective. I know she was a woman who raised her kids in the tumultuous times of the 60's and 70's, and she certainly didn't have the marriage I do today. She gave birth to 7 children within 9 or so years and as far as I know she never had a nervous breakdown. She had a huge house to keep clean and didn't have McDonald's or Domino's to deliver dinner, and she didn't have the luxury of a dishwasher to clean up all those dishes.
Despite not having the things that I so take for granted, my memories of her and her sunny disposition are amazing. She let me wear lipstick, she never left the house without a little dab or two, and she always had a pie ready to eat on the table and cookies in an ice cream pail on top of the fridge. She was always ready with a hug, and would let me play beauty salon with her for hours, never complaining, I wonder how many times she realized she had a curler stuck in the back of her hair long after I'd gone home.
So 20 years after my Grandma Rita's too soon death, I am thinking of her, imagining how much she would love my children and my hilarious husband. Wondering if she'd be the kind of Grandma that had a cell phone or email. Wondering what advice she would give me about my children, or if she would make them pajamas with nightcaps for Christmas like the girls on Little House on the Prairie (her favorite TV show, after Cheers). I wonder how different my mom would be, if she hadn't lost her mother so near the age I am now.
After all that wondering, here is what I do know, I know that even 20 years after she last hugged me, I feel her arms around me in every move I make. I know that she would be proud of the woman I am today, her legacy lives on in me, a strong woman with a great sense of humor. I also know I need to take better care of my heart and body so I don't take after her with an early death and that I should try to wear more lipstick.