Happy Birthday, Grandma!

4220 days ago.

Today is December 13th. 

For those of you that are historians, let’s recap a bit.  On this day in history…

  • In 2003, American Forces captured Sadam Hussein outside Tikrit.
  • In 1993, Dow Jones hit a record of 3764.43 (not gonna lie, I don’t know what that means, but it sure looked good)
  • Back a ways farther, in 1978, the Susan B. Anthony dollar, the first US coin to honor a woman, is issued.
  • In 1961, the Beatles sign a formal agreement to be managed by Brian Epstein.
  • Back farther yet, in the year 1932, my grandmother was born.

Shirley Ann Meek enters the world and, what I don’t know yet mostly because I’m not even an existing thought, is that this day in history will change my life.

Although there are many things that I will always remember about my grandma, two of them stand out vividly in my mind.  Slurpees from 7/11 and ‘Always help your mom.’

My grandma, who I will lovingly refer to as G’ma from now on, only lived a couple blocks down from us growing up.  Several nights a week we would walk to her house just to visit with her.  I remember going through the door and the smell of bacon and vanilla tabacco greeting me almost every time.  (Probably why we lost Grandpa to a heart attack at the age of 65, but it could have been his chronic case of grumpiness too.)  My G’ma was the classic grandma.  She was always spoiling us somehow.  She had a huge yard.  I remember so many nights of playing ‘Mother, May I’ until dark and then we would have contests to see who could catch the most lightening bugs. 

G’ma always had gum.  And it was always Juicy Fruit.  She picked us up from school most days and we were treated to Slurpees at the corner 7/11.  We felt so cool.  Sometimes we would get an ice cream cone from Hardee’s, and this was okay too, but Slurpees were the best.  G’ma would drive us home, talking about our day and how we would probably walk to her house later.  When we got to our house, before we got out of the car, G’ma would say,’ Don’t forget.  Always help your mom.’  Every time.  Like clockwork.  Sometimes we would say ‘okay’, sometimes we would roll our eyes, and other times we would say it along with her and finish with ‘we know, we know’.

G’ma was there for everything.  We even lived with her for 6 months after selling our house and waiting for our new house to be built.  You better believe that tons of memories were created in that 6 months.  She was there for my confirmation, high school graduation, everything. 

But people get older and things change.  G’ma moved in when I moved out.  G’ma was diagnosed as a diabetic and was also showing early signs of Alzheimer’s.  She has battled the Alzheimer’s pretty well, actually, and still remembers those around her.  It gets a bit cloudy when you ask her what year it is and a bit humorous when you ask who the President is.  ‘Some idiot’ she answers.  Whether you agree with her or not, it’s still pretty funny. 

She visited the hospital when my son was born and holding him brought a new twinkle to her eyes. 

In March of this year, G’ma was diagnosed with Multiple Myloma.  Multiple Myloma is a type of bone cancer that is very painful.  The good thing about the diagnosis was that it explained so much about what had been going with her health in the past months.  G’ma was recently admitted to the hospital due to severe pain she had with any small movement.  The doctors were going to run a test to see how the cancer was progressing.  The bad news was that, due to the cancer brittling her bones she had a couple cracked ribs.  The good news.  No.  The great news was that, as far as the doctors could see,  her cancer was in remission. (Hooray!!!)

G’ma Shirley is 78 years young today and that’s a pretty good deal.  She is one helluva lady.  (Can I say that on here?)  I always knew she was a strong lady.  She doesn’t talk a whole lot anymore, but she still gets that extra twinkle in her eye when my son is around. ( Which is often because he loves great G’ma Shirley!)  As we get ready to head home, we say goodbye and give hugs and kisses.  G’ma looks at my little guy and, as stern as she can, says,’ Always help your mom.’