Wow. I just read a knitting blog that brought tears to my eyes. So beautiful, well written, tender, nostalgic, and just a touch bittersweet. It was titled “I want to be like my grandmother,” and you can find it here.
When you read something that touches you and evokes an emotional or physical reaction like that, you know it came straight from the writer’s own heart. That’s something many writers don’t know–it’s not taught in school: If you don’t feel the sensations when you’re writing, your readers won’t feel them, either. That includes humor, fear, and soul-swelling love.
My grandparents were also very special. While I didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked with my paternal grandma and grandpa, who lived in Portland, OR, I did grow up in the tender care of my maternal grandparents (who lived in Burlingame, CA, and later in Half Moon Bay, CA). In fact, when I was 16, I moved out on my own. It didn’t go too well for me in Marin Co., so I went to Half Moon Bay and lived with Grandma and Grandpa for a few years.
The times I spent with them in Half Moon Bay–as a child, and later as a young adult–were among the happiest of my life. Of course, I have many wonderful memories of my mom, sister, stepfather, and stepbrothers. But there IS something special about that grandparent-grandchild relationship that can’t be denied or defined. I think my mom is feeling that difference right now, with my sister’s son, Ethan. His relationship with “Birdie Grandma” is very special.
Add to that the freedom I enjoyed in Half Moon Bay, which–in the 1970s and early 80s–was virtually unspoiled…just a sleepy little farming community. That’s all different now, though. I’m really not sure I ever want to go back.
I’d prefer to remember it as it was, when grandpa and I would head over to Thrifty Drugs for an evening ice cream cone (15 cents!). Or when grandma and I would wander around main street, exploring the feed store’s magical inventory of clothing, seeds, and small animals.
These memories aren’t sad, but they are a bit melancholy. Grandpa died in October 1989, shortly after he and grandma moved back to the Black Hills, in SD, where their families had settled in the 19th Century.
Grandma was diagnosed with dementia a few years later and lived in nursing homes until her death in 2002. And I felt her passing. Just after 8 p.m. one evening I was struck by a surge of dizziness and collapsed…My mother called me a short while later to tell me grandma was gone. She’d died at that exact moment.
Every day I think of them, every day I miss them. But they’re in my heart, and I know we’ll always be together.