Note: This will not be like my usual posts.
Happy birthday, Grandma. Tomorrow, you would have been 86. Two weeks ago would have been Grandpa’s 87th – happy belated to you.
You’ve been gone for four-and-a-half and six years, respectively, and I still find myself missing you. During the usual times, of course, like on Labor Day weekend, during the holidays, anytime I walk into Mullen’s.
But also in moments a little less usual: After a dream where you’re so real, when baking or mowing, when I pass those miniature boxes of Cocoa Puffs and Fruit Loops in the cereal aisle at the grocery store.
Or when I think of what you won’t be here for: weddings, great-grandchildren, life lessons, happy tears. Boyfriend never got the chance to meet you, and I can’t adequately explain to him how much of a tragedy that is. I hope you would have loved him.
Sometimes it’s like you just left us yesterday.
I take pride in telling people how my grandparents weren’t the “normal” grandparents. Or, you know, what I see of the stereotypical ones on TV. You never seemed old or frail, at least not until the very end. You were at all of our ballgames, graduations, birthday parties. You, Grandpa, taught us to fish, to mow, to pick strawberries, to drive a golf cart (not so much to get it caught on the clothes line, however. Whoops.), to be patient and kind. Grandma, you taught us to make fudge and strawberry jam (that I wish I could remember), to play card games we’ll never forget, to take care of each other, to love without inhibition.
But Grandma and Grandpa, I’m sorry. I knew you well, but not well enough – not as well as I could have, if only I would have made the effort to. I’d learn about your childhoods for school papers, but not for my own knowledge. I knew you were proud of me and loved me deeply, but I don’t know your thoughts on politics, growing older or so many other things. As time went on, I stopped calling and visiting you “just because,” because I deemed other, much less important things to be more important than spending time with you.
I look around at our family, and I’m amazed to see the greatness that has proliferated from just two people. We’re more than just medical, business and legal professionals; we’re sons and daughters and aunts and uncles and sisters and brothers and mothers and fathers and cousins and in-laws who support each other, comfort each other, love each other, guide each other and simply enjoy each other’s company. And that’s all because of the two of you.
We have this running joke about how the Shaners are above the law – when we accidentally run a stop sign or disobey a silly rule – but it’s really because of how high you’ve set the bar. You had high expectations, but only because you knew we’d have it in us to exceed them.
We’re proud to be called Shaners, and we miss you dearly.
P.S. I know it was you who negotiated with God to hold off on the rain for the rodeo. Even in Heaven, you still come through for us. Thanks.