Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Grandmas and rings

So, I'm feeling better. I think that the snow that fell this past weekend actually really helped me finally start to feel the Christmas spirit. I am just full of a multitude of thoughts this Christmas Eve...

For starters, I hope that Little Joseph can kick this killer cold that he's got before we leave for Chicago on Friday.

Then, this time of year is a Grandma-y time of year for me:
December 21 is my mom's mom's (Grandma A) birthday. So, when she was living with us we would always go out to dinner with her on her birthday. She moved in with my parents over Thanksgiving of 1996 and lived with them/us until she died October 26, 2001. There is so much to say about those 5 years and the things that we all learned throughout that time. Most notably, Max and I learned a whole new sense of responsibility in relation to our family. My parents took my grandma in with no questions or regrets when she was no longer able to live by herself. It certainly wasn't easy for anyone as I had just started college 1000 miles away and Max was in 5th grade...not to mention that my 85-year-old grandmother was moving to live with her daughter in NH after 70ish years of life in downtown Chicago...not quite apples-to-apples. And, the fact that she was moving because her health was no longer allowing her to be on her own made her even more frustrated. But, we (mostly they) persevered. Max and I ended up knowing Grandma A better than we ever did before and we figured out that Grandma was a pretty cool lady. So, thanks to that whole situation, we have some incredible memories and insights that we wouldn't have otherwise had. We still go out to dinner on her birthday so that we can remember her (although the snow kind of...snowed on that parade this year). There is so much more to say about this experience, but I'll stop here.

Then, Christmas Eve 1999 was when my dad's mom (Grandma W) died. She was another amazingly cool (in a totally different way) lady. She lived in Cleveland with the rest of my dad's family and we managed to see them once or twice a year while I was growing up. Once we moved to NH, though, they all came to visit us a little bit more and we developed more of a relationship. Grandma W was such a smart lady in so many different ways. She always had a story about something (I wish that I could remember more of them), she read everything that she could get her hands on, and she was such a talented seamstress and handcrafter person. When she died, her estate was split up amongst the 4 kids and many grandkids so that we all got tokens and a little bit of money. I got a lamp (that Matt hates, I don't know why, I think that it's so pretty--green Tiffany-style table lamp), and graduated pearls in addition to the money. Since I was anticipating more college, I put the money toward that expense, but I did a very smart thing: I bought myself a ring with a little bit of the money so that I'd have something tangible to look at and think of her. It was probably the best $225 that I could've spent. I love the ring, and it makes me think of her.

Grandma A also gave me a ring. She bought herself a diamond and sapphire ring when I was born (in September) with the intention of giving it to me for my wedding. I had no idea of this plan and was amazed when she gave it to me and told me the story shortly before our wedding in 2001. Of course, it was my "something blue." I love that one too, although I don't wear it as much.

So, this time of year always finds me reflecting on the amazing women in my family. I, actually, kind of feel like I've developed as a neat combination of these two cool ladies (and my mom, of course) and feel like if I can be as determined and inspired as they were, then I'll be okay. And, hopefully someday my grandkids can sit around and remember me with similar fondness and admiration.

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