Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My Mom's Parents.....

So these thoughts starting flowing about the time I had no time to share them. I am frantically trying to get everything ready so that we can leave Friday morning for my grandpa's funeral. But, since the thoughts are here I will find some time when I should be sleeping to make up for the time I am spending now to write down my thoughts.

My first memory of my grandparents is at their home in South Lake Tahoe. If you have never been to Tahoe, you owe it to yourself to go at least once in your life. To me it is heaven. On the occasions I was permitted to stay with my grandparents for a few nights, I would get to sleep between them in their bed. (There were never any monsters in Grandma and Grandpa's bed.) I remember how the carpet smelled in their house. Is that weird? I remember celebrating Christmas in their house. The snow and the hill in the backyard was perfect for sledding. I can still see my grandma hanging out her clothes to dry on a line that was on a pulley that went from the eaves of the house to the other side of the yard. She would stand there and hang one article of clothing at a time, pulling the line to make room for the next. My grandma was a bit of a neat freak, but she never made you feel unwelcome because of it. You know how things like pillows shift when you sit on a couch? Well when you got up she would straighten them when you weren't looking. You would have to be sneaky if you wanted to catch her doing it. When we would first arrive at my grandparents, my grandpa would pick us up and hug us so tight that I was sure he loved me more than anyone else loved me. He could hug so tight that sometimes I thought it would be OK if he loved me a tiny bit less.

Some years later my grandparents moved to Carson City, Nevada, which was great since that is where we lived at the time. Grandparents closer is always good. I remember sitting at the bar in my grandma's kitchen while she cooked us "noodle soup" for lunch, aka Top Ramen. I loved that stuff as a kid. When the soup was too hot, she would pour a little cold water in the soup to help it cool. Well one day we must have had her a little frazzled because when my sister said hers was too hot, grandma poured a little milk in my sister's soup. Grandma was clearly annoyed at what she had done, but my sister didn't care. She ate it anyway. Not long after that we learned that my grandma had cancer.

I know that my grandfather spent his life savings trying to save his wife. There was never any question about how grandpa felt about grandma. So much so that when my grandma's health started to really decline, the nurse who cared for my grandma commented that she wished someone would love her even half as much as my grandpa loved my grandma. My grandma knew she was going to die. She would say, "I don't know what the Lord has planned for me, but I wish he would just get on with it." My grandma died shortly after my eighth birthday. I still miss her almost 30 years later. Before she died, she had a "heart-to-heart" with my grandpa that no wife ever wants to have with her husband. Grandma knew that Grandpa needed a wife or he would be miserable and difficult to deal with and she told him so. As they were having this conversation she expressed to him that she wanted him to re-marry and that she thought he should marry the nurse that cared for her. Now I ask you......Could you do that? I love my husband fiercely and I would want him to be happy......I just don't know if I could know who she was or pick her out. OK, truthfully, I don't know if I can really stand the thought of him being married to anybody but me, but the Rocket Scientist would have to re-marry too. Months after my grandma passed away, my grandpa married my Grandma Carma. She was the nurse that cared for my grandma.

One of the coolest things about gaining another grandma was that I gained two more aunts and an uncle. (Grandma Carma's children from another marriage.) Something that I have always been thankful for. It honestly felt like more people to love and more people to love me. When I was twelve, we moved away from Carson City, but through the years we have visited often.

When my grandpa passed away a little over week ago I felt like I knew him better in his last days here with us than I did before. Funny how someone all of your life has been "framed" one way. To me he was just Grandpa. As I looked at his large frame in what seemed like a tiny hospital bed, I realized for the first time, he was a lot more than Grandpa. He was the son of Swedish immigrants, a brother (number two of five children) , a father of seven children and a husband. He was a business owner, a friend, and a man with dreams, goals, failures, and accomplishments. I also learned there was more to his sense of humor than I knew most of my life. For instance, my grandpa loved caffeine-free Diet Coke and chocolate chip cookies. In fact I have heard it said that he was the original Cookie Monster. I am certain for the last couple of years that he has tried to sustain his life on this particular diet, though there were many that tried to convince him to eat things that were better for him. When my grandpa knew he was going to die in a few days, my Grandma Carma asked him if he thought there would be Diet Coke in heaven. His reply was "Nooooo!" Grandma Carma then asked, "Then what will you drink, Ed?" His quick as a whip reply was, "I'll just drink water."

I have more stories about my grandpa I will share in following posts, but for now, it's back to laundry and getting ready to get out of town. Thanks for listening......

12 comments:

Screwed Up Texan said...

Thanks for sharing this beautiful tribute to your grandpa. I'm sorry that you lost him. He seems like a very nice and wonderful man. Take care. (((HUGS)))

cat said...

Oh wow, what a lovely post! I have no more words right now - I am missing my gran. I promise that I will think of you tomorrow with the funeral.Love and light!

American in Norway said...

Such a sweet story about your grandparents.. I am sorry for your loss...hang in there.. Hugs. Have a safe trip!

The Antiques Diva™ said...

It's been a while since I've had a free moment to pop in and say Hello. I was sad to hear of your grandparents passing and wanted to extend my condolences. I read a wonderful quote on living and dying this week and wanted to share it with you.

"When you were born, you cried and we rejoiced. When you died we cried and you rejoiced."

-Native American Proverb

May God bring peace and comfort and may your heart be filled with memories of laughter and joyful moments.

Toma

Nancy said...

Such a great job with this post. It really made me think about how I view people -- like my parents -- as just that, my parents and forget to realize all of everything else that has been a part of their life. Oddly, Mike and I had a real death conversation recently, and, as sad as it made me to come to that conclusion, I also really did -- the conclusion that I wouldn't want him to be lonely and struggling to maintain home and job and kids alone. Weird.

orangemily said...

Wonderful memories! It's so true how our perceptions of our granparents change as we grow older.

carrielt said...

Oh Karen, such a beautiful post. Makes me miss my grandpa even more. Big hugs to all of you!

Stacy said...

...sniff...

Krista said...

Karen, your stories brought tears to my eyes. This was so beautifully written. Your grandpa have something in common - choc chip cookies and Caffeine free Diet Coke. My favorites. You have some priceless memories and I'm glad they are written for your kids to see. Love ya heaps!

imbeingheldhostage said...

GREAT start! Well done you for getting these thoughts "on paper". Safe travels,
J

Sissy said...

that's so sweet - he married the woman she picked. I'm glad he was able to be happy after your Grandma passed away.

Laura said...

thank you for sharing your memories. There is nothing more therapuetic than remembering... and making if last in writing.