Monday, November 22, 2010

Family History

This past week I revisited an "issue" I have.

Sometimes, I feel gypped in the grandma department.

I have three women in my past who (whom?) I call Grandma.

The woman in my family that I best consider in every essence of the word, "Grandma," died when I was 13, before I was old enough to really be cognizant of other people's personalities. I know we lived with them when I was quite young, but Grandma K appears in only one of the few memories I have of the time in that house. There are snippets of memories with her from more recent times in my life, but nothing that tells me who she was. The ways I know her best are by the things she made for me and the stories I hear about her (which I decided last week are not sufficient, I want more).

I've never met my other grandmother. She died when my mom was a teenager. However, I feel a strong connection to this woman I never met. A feeling like, even though I've never seen her, she's been here the whole time.

I have a third woman in the mix. My Grandpa B remarried before I was born. I grew up calling her Grandma. I considered her my grandmother, even though we share no blood. I think I still do. She's the grandmother I have the clearest memories of. She died only a couple years ago. I learned a lot after she died. Every once in a while I think about what I've learned, like last week. And it led me to some refreshed gratitude, which is why I'm blogging about it:)

Here's the thing. My Grandpa and Grandma married after her son was grown and most of his children were, too. I rarely saw Grandma when I was growing up. They'd split up for family visits. Grandpa would come to visit and Grandma would go visit her son and his family. When I did see her, she was always nice. I especially remember the time when I brought boyfriend-Bret to a family function at Grandpa's house. She pulled me aside at one point with bright eyes and a wide smile and whispered, "He's such a nice boy. Grandpa and I like him very much." It was sweet:)

Then the funeral. Grandma's son has four sons of his own and one daughter. His daughter spoke during the funeral and mentioned how Grandma would hold her face and say, "Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh, you are my only granddaughter."

I'll admit. I was shocked. So much so, that my laughter response was triggered. One of those, "hahaha! Oh're serious!" My mom scoffed and put her arm around me while I tried to rationalize in my head. "Sure, I guess maybe she could just be talking about blood-wise. Then she really does have just one granddaughter...but did she really think that? I always considered her Grandma...should I not have? What was I to her? What were my cousins to her?...Really?!?!"

Some conversation with a cousin who grew up living quite close to Grandma and Grandpa confirmed that, yes, we weren't really considered her grandchildren. Now, let me interject- she was a good woman and I'm positive that she loved us on some level.

And I've realized it kind of went both ways. I didn't cry when I found out she had died. I cried at the funeral when they closed the casket for the last time and I watched her son say goodbye and I thought, "how awful to have to say goodbye to your mom and close that lid until who-knows-when!" I didn't really cry because she was gone and I've since realized that I pretty much just felt she was a nice elderly woman in my life.

Still. It kinda stings.

And so began my feelings of gypped-ness. I realized (shame it took me 24ish years to realize this) that of the three women I call Grandma, I only really got to spend fleeting time with one who fulfilled the role and I really didn't don't know any of them.


Thanks to family history, I can get to know my grandmothers better even though they aren't here anymore.

I have pictures. Pictures of smiles, laughter, hard work, family gatherings, etc.

I have dolls and things that were made just for me.

I have stories shared by relatives who knew them.

And I have a testimony that one day I'll be able to see them, talk with them, and spend time with them.

So, yes, I still feel like I've been gypped of what I've missed with my grandmothers. But I will be forever grateful for the family history that has been shared with me. I may not know them well, but I know enough of them and of what awaits us after death to feel like they are a part of my life; women who have gone before me and are cheering me on to the finish line.

And in the meantime, I have two of the most remarkable grandpas ever:)

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