Brownies and Diet Coke are an odd combination; but those two things bring an instant image of my Grandma to mind. The smell of Giorgio perfume and powder, the clanking of her eyeglass chain and the feel of her long manicured nails playing with my hair can be easily conjured. We would always bake “Grandma’s Brownies” together. My little brother, my cousin and I would gather around the counter, with General Hospital playing on the little TV in the kitchen. We would all have a job; someone would be on egg duty, whisking/stirring duty and we all would clamber for the “licking the spoon” job. She always made her brownies in the same big wooden bowl and after they were done we would all enjoy them with milk or as we got older, cold caffeine free Diet Coke. I know it’s awful now when I think of it, but it just was that way back then.
My grandparents live at the beach. When we were kids the three grandchildren would come down and stay without our parents. Along with brownie making and eating, we would walk to the beach everyday with bologna sandwiches in a cooler, towels and more sand toys than you can imagine. Off we would trudge like ducklings behind their mother, marching towards the beach. We would play for hours; each of us getting our turn with Grandma to “jump waves.”.She would take her strong hand in mine and lift me up over each wave as it came into shore. Salt and sea were our summers and we loved it. My cousin and I would hole up with Grandma in our bedroom and have “girl talk” every afternoon, my poor brother banished downstairs. We did endless crafts and painted more sand dollars that you can imagine. We were the center of her universe.
My Grandma has always been my biggest fan. She dubbed her three grandchildren her “precious sweet angels” years ago. Even when we were not so angelic (sliding down staircases, throwing clothes on the ceiling fan to watch them spin around, breaking her precious figurines and trying to gently set the detached head precariously back on without her knowing) she loved us. At the age of 32 I still smile every time she calls and says “Hey PSA (precious sweet angel)”. She was the first person I called when my darling husband and I had our first kiss, when I became pregnant with my first, then a few years later my second. She has been my champion, my nurturer, my confidant, my shoulder to cry on-for all of my life. She has a subscription to the Village News just to read this very column and to keep up on the news of my little town. She is stubborn, strong, beautiful, loving, a place to run to when you need to get away. I love her more than words can say.
She raised four big, strong sons. She was delighted when she was given not one, but two granddaughters in two years in the early eighties; and was happier still to get a grandson a few years later, she made it well known that my brother was “her favorite grandson.” She delights in being a great-grandma to my two children, my precious flower her namesake. She is our biggest fan. She has been married to my Papa for sixty years now; she is a philanthropist, a writer, a lover and a dreamer. I adore her.
This week, my Grandma has started her transition out of this world. She is at peace; it’s all the rest of us who are devastated. I have been so fortunate to be able to be with her the last few days, getting to talk softly about life, our memories and our love for each other. I have been able to take care of her, rubbing her feet, washing her hair and generally just showing her my love. It’s been the most wonderful gift.
As I travel back to the beach this week to say my goodbyes, I don’t know how I will manage. It’s difficult to think that I can’t have my daily phone chat with her, see her, hug her, and go to her when I have doubts about myself. I feel as though no one loves me as much as she does. We always end our conversations with our “I love you’s” with her always adding, “I love you more.” Truer words have never been spoken. Missing her will hinder me daily; I don’t know what I am going to do without her.
Rest well my adored Grandma, we will all meet again.