Today is my Grandma Colleen’s birthday. She passed when I was pregnant with Neil, over nineteen years ago. I think she would be 100 today. Renal cancer killed her. We think she and my grandfather were exposed to something in their travels in NM when he worked road construction. At 81 she had lived a pretty good long life but none of us were ready to lose her. It’s been nineteen years and I’m still not ready.

Every sorrow, every triumph, even just boring daily trivia makes me want to call her up. I bet she would still be using her wall phone in the kitchen with that handy chalk board right next to it, and the old fashioned step stool we all loved to sit on.

She was my unconditional support, my enveloping blanket, the person who would be kind no matter how shitty I was being. And boy, could I be shitty. I made her cry more times than I want to remember. I hope I made her smile more than that, but the good we do doesn’t stick with us as well.

I miss you, Gram. I miss your onion breath, your powder-puffy hugs, your old lady polyester shirts. I miss you checking every door in the house three times so we felt safe. I miss you watching tv til one am and keeping me up with your wall-shaking snores.

I miss your Queen of Crack jokes and your silent but deadlies… I miss our late night conversations and giggles.  I miss your little lessons on how to spoil myself (take a book and tea into the bath, use Oil of Olay, Herbal Essences when it was GREEN.) and your stories of riding the street car in Topeka or living in one room houses with dirt floors and no lights when you were first married.

Every person in our life teaches us, but you loved me best. Thank you. I hope you see my children and how hard I’m trying to be more like you in the good ways.

I hope when I die that there IS an afterlife and are together again because I spend every day of this one missing you and wishing you had gotten to see me AFTER I grew out of (mostly) my rotten phase. And oh, how I wish my children had known you.

I love you, Gram. Thank you for loving us.


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