My great-grandmother and I were very close. Granny, as I called her, was my mom's grandmother, my grandmother's mom. She was truly the matriarch of the family and amazingly strong. My Granny raised four children, lost her husband too soon, survived the Great Depression, never learned to drive, buried two of her sons, gardened, cooked amazing food, and sewed anything made of fabric.
One thing Granny always bought me at Christmas was underwear. Now, as a young girl, it was terrible. Often mortified, I would open my package from Granny knowing what I would find within that pretty paper. As an adult, I would love to receive underwear every year. How I miss that gift!
As Granny laid in a hospital bed during her final days, I tried to stay by her side as much as possible. When I wasn't by her side, I was often sleeping on couch cushions on the floor of the waiting room. Granny was unable to speak, but she spoke so clearly through her eyes. I was able to put lotion on her dry skin, feed her broth, and smooth her hair - anything to make her comfortable. I also painted her nails. For years, I enjoyed doing that since her nails were always so smooth and pretty. I knew when Granny died that her fingernails needed to look pretty.
Granny held on for much longer than anyone thought she would. I was only 19, but I knew what lied ahead and called family to let them it was time to come say their goodbyes. Granny still held on, clinging to life.
Then it became time for me to head back to college. My summer was over, and I had to get back to school for sorority rush. As a rush counselor, I moved out of the sorority house and into the dorms. I could not be identified with my sorority, had no telephone, no contact with my sisters, so I could work with the girls preparing to be rushed. A few days into my new unfamiliar and somewhat uncomfortable surroundings, an early morning knock came to our dorm room's door.
I got out of bed, opened the door, and began to cry. I knew what it was. I was brought a phone, and I nervously called my mother. My Granny was gone. She died after we all left the hospital. I tried to figure out how to get home for the funeral. Then my mom recommended that I not come home. "You're busy, Granny is gone, there is nothing you can do now. Granny would want you to stay at school," my mom told me. For some reason that I will NEVER know to this day, I took my mother's advice and did not go home. In a way I still regret that decision, but my goodbyes with Granny came later.
One night, and I'm not sure when, Granny came to me in a dream. She always had a gravely, distinctive voice. In my dream, I was lying on my stomach asleep. Granny woke me up and said, "It's okay. I'm rubbing your back." And she was. She was patting my back as I slept. I know she was really there with me. And she still is. It's been over 20 years, and I know she still is with me. I pray to God and to Granny that she is rocking my babies in Heaven.
So, you're probably wondering why this blog entry is titled "Cameo." Well, here's why! When I was in high school, Granny started giving me "stuff". At the age of 16, I thought that most of it was crap. Except for one piece of jewelry she gave me. It was a cameo. Granny told me it was the last gift her husband gave her before he died. That stuck with me, and I kept the cameo with me. On my wedding day, I told my grandmother (Granny's only daughter) the story of the cameo, and asked her to pin it in my wedding dress. Granny was with me that day, just as she always is.
Sadly, my grandmother Mary will be joining her mother (my Granny) in the near future to help rock my babies. I know that they both will always be with me, and it brings me comfort to know that I will have so much love coming from above.
For more Show & Tell, check out Mel's list of participants for this week.