Tuesday, May 04, 2010
Grandma/Gee Gee--Or a VERY Long Ramblicious Post
Goodness, I have no idea exactly how to begin this, or where to begin or what to write. There is so much to say about this amazing, wonderful woman, I find myself without words. How odd is that?
I met Grandma in October of 1993--on the night of my first official date with Brien, actually. She was this sweet, kind woman who in the words of Anne Shirley, was a "kindred spirit". I could tell this at once.
Over the course of our dating period, Brien and I would go and visit and just "hang out" with Grandma, because I thoroughly enjoyed being with her. I loved looking at her quilts (what an art!), listening to her stories--such as about life in West Virginia or trips on Elder Hostels, or taking walks/hikes with her.
As our dating life continued, and things became even more serious, Grandma let Brien know he was to be the recipient of the engagement ring Grandpa had given her, and that she had it whenever he was ready. :oP At this point, it seemed obvious to me that Grandma loved me as much as I loved her, that she considered me a granddaughter while I looked at her as another grandmother. I LOVE that ring, and although I know it is mine now, I still feel as though it is hers as well, it is something that connects us. Not that I wouldn't be careful with it anyway, I find I'm even more careful with the ring, as it is something precious and priceless, a piece of family history, a future family heirloom.
As a wedding gift, Grandma said she would make a quilt for Brien and me. I LOVE the double wedding ring pattern and although it is a pain in the tukus to make, Grandma did so. While Brien was in Texas at Air Force basic training, I was taking trips home from college to make wedding plans. One trip was devoted to going fabric shopping with Grandma to Floyd County. I smile every time I think of that trip as we had such a wonderful time. :o) We stopped for lunch and I introduced Grandma to her first bison burger (at least I'm fairly certain I did, anyway).
The quilt is beyond BEAUTIFUL and I'll have to post a photo some day. Quilts are truly a labor of love. Every time I see one of Grandma's quilts or wall hangings, I'm reminded of her love for us, for surely you can't make a quilt for someone without thinking of them while you are working on it.
When we found out we were pregnant with Hannah, we bounced around names (as all parents do) and Eleanor was at the top of our list. But, being young, we didn't want to "hurt anyone's feelings" by naming a child after one grandparent and not any others, so, no matter how hard Jessie lobbied for it ("And you can call her 'Ella', isn't that a beautiful name?!?"), we decided it probably wouldn't suit the Monkey.
When we were pregnant with Lily, Eleanor was once more on our list. Somehow, though, it just didn't feel right. I can't explain it, I just knew Lily was the name for that baby. Lily is named for Nana's mother who passed away July 4, 2005, the summer I was pregnant with Lil.
When we lost Hannah in 2007, I was sure there was no way I could ever survive the loss. I knew I was going to die, because surely no one could experience that much pain and live. Then, I looked at Grandma, and I knew I could. She survived the loss of her oldest son. She had experienced it. She knew where I was and what I was going through. Here was another mother who had lost a child and lived to tell. I could talk to her, ask her questions, know that I would live, and that although my life would NEVER be as perfect as it once was, that it could still be good. At that moment, Grandma became a role model for me and I had never been more thankful for her presence in my life.
I love my family (I include B's family as mine as well). They were all there for me, helping me, supporting me. They were all suffering as well, but there was no way they could get it, no matter how hard they tried, no matter how much they wanted to. Grandma? She got it. I don't know what else to say. You see, there's this horrible club we are both members of: the club of mothers who have lost children.
So, when we discovered we were once more blessed and going to have another baby, there was no doubt in either Brien's or my mind this baby would be Ellie if she were a girl. I couldn't imagine a better way to honor such an incredible woman.
We had a tub of Hannah's clothing that we couldn't see anyone else EVER wearing--they were quintessential Hannah and I would have been uncomfortable seeing any other child in them. I mentioned this in a blog post and someone mentioned having quilts made. At the time, I had thought, okay, one for us, one for Lily. Then, we got pregnant with the Bean. At that point, I decided there needed to be quilts for each of the girls as a remembrance of their sister.
I knew I was asking a very difficult task of Grandma, but I requested she be the one to make the quilts. Grandma said she would be honored to do so, so we gave her the tub of clothing (it even included Han's "froggy mommy socks") last fall. Somehow--I have NO idea when she had the time--she managed to make two quilts for the girls and had them ready to give to them Saturday. When Lil pulled her quilt out, I almost cried. I wasn't sure what I was expecting, but nothing so perfect:
One of my favorite things about scrap quilts is locating familiar fabrics and smiling remembering the clothing or item you had made with that fabric. Well, this was similar, and yet so much harder. I remember that striped shirt, those monkey pajamas, that green monkey shirt, those soft burgundy pants we couldn't keep her out of. I remember the brown shorts used to make the shoes--we bought them the day Han played in the mud at Melanie's and we wouldn't be going home until late that night and needed some clean clothing for the evening at Relay for Life.
Not only were the little girls on the quilt wearing Hannah's clothes, they were a rainbow of colors, just like the Monkey loved. She would spread her Groovies out on the ground and say, "They are all so beautiful--like a rainbow. Look at the pretty brown skin on this one and the tan skin on this one. This one has peachy skin like me."
As I was trying not to cry, I asked Grandma how in the world she managed to do this. She said, "It was hard, but it was a labor of love."
Lily is in LOVE with her quilt and has slept under it every night. I still need to get a good photo of Ellie's. They are both PERFECT. I'm blessed. I'm truly blessed to have this woman in my life.
Grandma (Gee Gee now, for "Great Grandma"), thank you. I love you!