Today my family said goodbye to a very special lady...my Grandma Dolly.
My gram was the youngest girl out of 14 children in the Gregory family, with just one brother behind her. Being the baby girl, they called her Dolly, though her real name was Ruth. She was a tough little lady...and I do mean little as she measured in at UNDER 5 foot! But she would speak her mind. Not just as she got older. For as long as I can remember Gram would tell you just exactly what she thought...good or bad:) Replying, "K, Gram," was most often an appropriate response to any rude or awkward comments. Later my sisters and I would have a good laugh about whatever was said. Like most of my family, Gram showed her love through giving gifts. She was one of the most generous people I knew-to me, to my husband and most recently, to my daughter. And though I've always appreciated that, I am even more grateful now, as I look around my house and see so many things to cherish because they have come from her.
My gram instilled in me the importance of family and of respecting my parents, no matter what. She gave me an appreciation for being domestic, as she taught me to sew (I still have fabric for a table runner that we were supposed to make together) and to make strawberry jam (a tradition every June when strawberries are harvested) and to bake (her recipes handed down from generations ago just made things taste better!). These were my deepest connections with her. They were what made me feel close to her and what made me feel she was proud of me.
When I was pregnant last year, I made a new connection with Grandma Dolly. She called me all the time! She had all the news about flu shots and infant sleep positioners and what baby names I needed to consider:) Toward the end of my pregnancy she would call and ask how I was feeling, if my feet were swollen, if I had any cramping. She was there the day Jezze was born. Proud as ever. And from that day forward she never stopped showering my little girl with gifts. Jezze "wrote" her a thank you note recently and mailed it to Gram. A few days later Jezze got a letter from Gram thanking her for the thank you note! Although that seems so silly and small, the first thing I thought of when she passed away was how grateful I was to have that note to keep for Jezze and to tell her of the love of Grandma Dolly.
I miss her. Already. She is the only grandparent I ever had the privilege of knowing. When I saw her in the hospital, dying, I was speechless. I couldn't think of any words that would convey what I wanted her to know-how I loved her, appreciated her, wished desperately for another decade with her so that my children could laugh about the rude things she would inevitably say to them. Mostly I just wanted her to know that the world would feel a little emptier without her in it. And it does.
K, Gram. I love you. I'll see you in heaven.
Grandma and me 1984
Grandma and Jezze 2010