NEW CASTLE — August 1 is my maternal grandmother's birthday. This year she will mark her 85th year (although she doesn't look or act a day over 50). Somehow, this date always sneaks up on me. I have even missed it a few times in the past, and I feel quite bad for not recognizing her on her special day.
She has done so much for me during the varied stages of my tangled life. Believe it or not, she was the one who taught me to ski. Yes, my grandmother taught me how to ski. She and I would spend several weekends every winter at different ski resorts around the area tumbling down the slopes.
I also have a distant memory of her teaching me how to swim. I recall her holding me in the water and making me float as she showed me the strokes.
She also took me on vacation to North Carolina with her one summer when I was 10 or 11 years old. This was the same summer that Return of the Jedi hit movie theaters. I could not wait to see the film. After a little pleading on my part, she relented and we went to see the movie. In hindsight, I'm sure she was ecstatic about sitting through two hours of sci-fi geek heaven. But, she did it because she knew I would love every minute of it and making her oldest grandson happy put a smile on her face and in her heart.
She has always been extremely generous to myself and her other grandchildren. Our birthday gifts and Christmas presents were always stacked high, and the cards were filled with money.
She would have me out to her house to mow the grass or do some other work around the house, and she would pay me what seemed like an exorbitant amount of money. Not only did she overpay, but she would provide the perfect sandwiches. She cut them into a triangle shape that somehow made them taste so much better than the ones I got at home.
As I got older, she was there as turmoil erupted at my home, and my parents and I did not see eye-to-eye. She drove all the way across town to pick me up from school and drop me off in the mornings. She was there to protect me and serve her family. Though she may not have agreed with me, she never showed any outward expression of disapproval. She was simply compassionate, caring, and giving at all times.
I have always been a big dreamer with grand ideas of how to affect the world. Grandma was always there supporting my dreams. She was at my high school and college graduations, bearing overly generous gifts. She came to every church musical and school play and even my rinky-dink art shows.
She is the last blood-related grandparent I have left, and I feel I have forsaken my duties as a grandson. I have been lax in my responsibilities. I should be at her house helping out, mowing the grass, raking the leaves, taking out the trash, and adding salt to the water conditioner. But, my life has gotten in the way. Work, house upkeep, and my wife and child have taken over those moments of my life.
She only lives a handful of miles away, yet I still can never find the time to visit. I feel bad and think of heading out to see her often, but something always seems to get in the way or commandeers my time. I wish I had another 40 years to repay her for all the kind things she has done for me and is now doing for my daughter.
Grandma Jo, you have been a wonderful grandmother to me, and I am so very thankful that I have had the honor of being your grandson. Thank you!