I don't have a whole lot of memories of my grandma, but the ones I have are good. Every summer when I was a kid my parents and I would take our summer "vacation" road-trip to Michigan to see the family. The car ride was seriously endless. Memories are weird and all I have are vibrant little snippets, but here they are:
I remember grandma's house was all white and fluffy and smelled nice. My feet would sink into the carpet as I walked. She always had soft, fresh caramels in a glass dish that I would eat one by one. And mementos from her cruises that I wasn't supposed to play with. She always had pop for us kids in a fridge in the basement. We would stay at her house sometimes and in the morning she would make the best blueberry waffles ever. One time I slept on the couch next to the big grandfather clock and listened to it tick all night long. I slept funny and couldn't move my head the next day. She never forgot my birthday and would send me cards with checks every year. I remember one had a cat on it and said something about "knits and purrrrrls". She knit her own washcloths. She used to send them to my mom by the boatload. We had more washcloths than we knew what to do with.
She liked to bowl, I have pins from when she bowled a perfect game. She liked birds and crossword puzzles and taking walks. She liked to travel and had a map on her wall with pins of places she'd been and a star where she threw my grandpa's ashes from a cruiseship. She liked Big Boy restuarants and we went there for her 80-somethingth birthday and she got a free, little chocolate cake.
She gave me a necklace when I was a little girl with some sort of Chinese symbol on it. It came in a little pink, silk bag. She had the same necklace, only bigger. I still have the necklace and I still don't know what it means. But I remember she wore hers all the time.
Then I got older and didn't want to go to Michigan anymore. And the birthday cards started to skip years and then stopped altogether. She was getting more forgetful. The neverending washcloths started to fall apart until there was only one left, and then none. She started to have trouble driving and they took her car away. We went to see her and she had a huge black eye from falling down her front steps. We took her to the doctor and they thought we did it. There was talk of putting her in a nursing home. She walked out at dinner when she heard. She wanted her independence. She hated the nursing home at first but then said she loved it and always had. She had a friend there, also named Betty, and they would wander off and get in trouble sometimes.
They told us she had alzheimers and she started to forget who we were. I didn't see her for years. Then my dad and I went up there last year to do a half marathon and we went to see her. She was trying to talk to us but was frustrated that she couldn't find the words. Her nursing home had a glass birdhouse so she could watch the birds. We sat with her a while and then it was time to go. They wheeled her out to sit in the hallway with some other old people. I don't know if she knew who we were or why we were hugging her but when it was my turn she didn't hug me like a stranger. She hugged me like grandma. And I'll never forget it.