Celebrating my great-grandmother

I received a lovely email from Esther at Caring Across Generations asking for blog posts and anecdotes about my grandparents for Grandparents Day which is September 8th.  Caring Across Generations is hoping to honor and celebrate grandparents and to help facilitate a cultural change to open up the conversation around aging and care.

Honestly, how could I say no?!

Writing about care is what I do and anything I can do to spread the word about the need for better care for everyone, including the elderly, I’ll do!

So, from now until September 8th, I’ll be sharing stories about my grandparents and the quad’s grandparents.  and yes, I promise to post more than I have….

I am lucky enough to say that my great-grandmother was in my life for quite a long time.  She was my first insight into aging and the need for more care when you reach a certain age.  

Granny, as well called her, lived with us for about 10 years.  She took care of us when my parents needed her, helped around the house, was the neighborhood watch and I’m fairly certain she had an open line to God since they spoke daily.  

I will admit that I am ashamed that I cannot cook…  well, I can but not well.  My great-grandmother was the BEST cook.  She was from Italy and grew up in the south.  Seriously, BEST COMBINATION EVER FOR COOKING!  

I remember her cooking all day long when making gumbo.  and trust me, no one has EVER made gumbo the way that Granny did.  That lady could cook.  My mouth is watering just thinking about her gumbo and I haven’t had it in over 16 years.  

God I miss that lady.  every day.

I have a photo of her at her daughter’s wedding (my great-aunt) hanging on our bedroom wall.  She’s so beautiful and so proud standing there with her brother.  Makes my heart ache since I miss her so.

In the last few years of her life, dementia took over and she became someone that we didn’t know.  As a teenager, it scared the hell out of me and I stayed away from the nursing home.  My mom cared for her at home (with minimal help) for as long as possible before picking a wonderful nursing home at the end of our road.

Granny was less than a half a mile from our house and I barely visited her since I couldn’t stand to see her that way.  She wasn’t the lady I knew.  She wasn’t feisty and hilarious.  

She stopped calling me Miss America.  Yes, she did.  I was the only one she called that and although I said I hated it, I didn’t.  I loved it.

I loved her.  I still do.

I kept her rosary that she used daily.  It’s so worn that some of the beads are smooth.  I swear that lady talked to God so much that she had an open line.  

It doesn’t have the cross nor most of the beads but I carry it with me every day.  I have a piece in my wallet.  One in my car.  One that I wear as a necklace.  

They remind me of her.  Her strength.  Her beauty.  Her laugh.  Her humor.  Her smile.  Her love.

I still remember her smell.  A bit like an “old lady” smell but it was Granny.  Baby powder and Ponds cold cream…  I remember how her bedroom was set up in our house.  I used to stand in it and look at all of her treasures.  

But I never stayed too long since she always knew if I was in there without her.  How?  I have no idea but she did…  I can picture her sitting in her rocker looking out her window watching “that boy” up the street and his shenanigans.  

Makes me smile just thinking about it.

Over 16 years have passed since she’s left us and I can still hear her muttering under her breath “st. Josèphe aiutatemi.”  One day I asked what it meant and it’s “St. Joseph help me.”

Is it bad that she used to say it after dealing with me???!!!  

Funny how I find myself muttering it now…  I hope I always do and that one day my great-grandchild remembers it fondly.

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