Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What I Want to Tell Grandma

I thought I was done processing my last visit with Grandma, and maybe I was, but then I made blueberry pancakes for six children, Sunday morning. Five of them gathered happily around the dining room table (although I guess I shouldn't speak for Samwise, who pretty much always gets sandwiched between the little girls), and Chippy ate in the johnny jump-up, bouncing between bites of a dry, blueberry pancake.

An hour or so later, after the choir special, I settled into the pew between Jim and Cade. My stomach commenced to growling loudly, which cracked Cade up but reminded me of Grandma; she used to tell how--when her kids were growing up--she'd come home from church nearly every Sunday with a rip-roaring headache. She said she'd realized many years after the fact (having finally been given some peace and quiet and time to think) that she'd pretty well always skipped breakfast, herself, on Sunday mornings, having been caught up in getting everyone else fed and out the door.

Sitting in church, listening to my stomach, realizing I'd forgotten to eat...I felt so close to her.

When Andrea and I visited, last month, she asked Grandma how many children she had, and Grandma said: "Two. Two was enough. He said two was enough. And that was alright." She had seven children and still does.

Andrea asked: "What are their names?"

Grandma said: "Richard and Mary Ellen." Later, recounting the story to Uncle Ronnie and Aunt Carolyn, we all laughed because--if what Grandma had said were true--none of us would've made it into the world, let alone the room.

The seven-kids thing was the part of Grandma that felt mysterious to me, back before her Alzheimer's and my little kids. I'd try to imagine it and couldn't. It didn't appeal to me at all; I'll tell you that. But somehow, I hit this tipping point after #4. (I was leaning hard after #3.) Extra kids make things seem easier, mysteriously, so I've taken to borrowing them and dreaming of a full-sized van. I feel deeply satisfied, cheerful, when my minivan is crammed full and the log cabin buzzes and rattles with the energy of my children, plus extras. Strangest thing.

I hardly recognize myself, sometimes, and I want to tell Grandma. I want to tell her I understand her better, now, than I ever have: how my proudest moments have become the ones in which Mom says I remind her of Grandma.

I want to thank Grandma for having so many children because #6 is my mom, and #7 (Mary Ellen) has impacted my life like precious few others.

So many things I want to say to Grandma, and no one else will do.


  1. I know this feeling you have. This was so beautiful. Grandmas are such blessings!

  2. She sounds like an amazing lady. It must be so hard to not be able to share everything you want to with her.

  3. Giving me tears, Brandee. I get this. My grandma is losing her memory more and more each day - phone conversations are getting harder. My grandpa has been gone almost four years now - and there are so many things I want to tell him about my boys because there are things only he would appreciate. Hugs from Missouri.

  4. Reading through this reminded me of Sunday mornings at her house. I often got to sleep over at her house and everyone that was there went to church. Uncle Dan would make a big pot of oatmeal and we helped ourselves. Aunt Mildred (your grandma) would be busy with getting everyone ready ms herself. I'd watch her brush out her long hair and then coil it up on top of her head, pinning it into place. I don't remember seeing her have time to sit down and eat. She always took care of everyone else before herself. Such wonderful memories.

  5. "I hardly recognize myself, sometimes, and I want to tell Grandma. I want to tell her I understand her better, now, than I ever have: how my proudest moments have become the ones in which Mom says I remind her of Grandma."

    Love this!

    And, yes, I agree that you do reach a tipping point where added children don't require more effort...can't fully explain why, but it's true...

  6. I love this Brandee, you make me teary each time I read about you and your grandma. That is when I first fell for you (smile) you wrote a post on your grandma when you went to her room in the night and layed beside her. It was so tender, and at that time I had just lost my grandma. Can I just say, after so many years the Lord still gives me moments and I was just talking to my mom and we were talking and the Lord is always showing us thru our kids either a look, a laugh, a saying, He truly keeps them near and dear to our heart. Always.....

  7. My grandmother, who does not at all have dementia, chose to move to an assisted living residence last week after 51 years in the same home. She saw it coming and wanted to do it on her own terms. I respect that, but all the grandkids are grieving like crazy. I don't know where to picture her now... you know? She has invited Allen and me to come see the new place Sunday. Please pray I can go if God wants and have peace if He doesn't. I miss her and haven't seen her since August. However, I'm thankful I can call her on the phone and she's still herself. It's a different kind of missing them when Alzheimer's takes the "them" you remember. I'm sorry for the long grieving process that entails for you and your kinfolk. It's hard.

    Grace and peace to you in Jesus, friend.