Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Bittersweet Birthday

It is 12:16 a.m on Januray 20, 2010. It's my 35th birthday. It's a significant day... one I've been dreading for awhile. 35 seems so grown up and, dare I say, old. But now that it's here, I'm sad for a reason that has nothing to do with my age.

I am sad because for the first time in 35 birthdays, my Grandma Parker won't call to wish me a happy birthday. Grandma passed away early yesterday morning. She went in her sleep, which is the most peaceful way I can think of to leave this world. Grandma is in a better place. She had been sick the past few months and we all knew the end was near. Still, that doesn't make it any easier. I miss her already.

My grandma was a huge part of my life. I was lucky enough to spend time with her and Grandpa every summer as a kid. I would spend the mornings at the ranch with Grandpa and the afternoons at the library with Grandma. She always had Recess peanut butter cups in the bread drawer and hard boiled eggs in the fridge. I remember how she was always shocked at how much milk we'd go through when I came to visit.  I went to basketball camp in Gettysburg, spent hours at the pool and loved watching cartoons on cable tv (a luxury not available at home). I loved going to rodeos with them. I'd sit in the grandstand with Grandma and anxiously wait for Grandpa to rope. Grandma knew all the other wives and I think she had more fun visiting with them than watching Grandpa, yet she always knew what had happened, and what to say to Grandpa on the drive home.
As an adult, I saw my Grandma less each year. My life got busy, and it was so easy to tell myself I'd go visit next weekend, or I'd call tomorrow. I never did. I used to print out this blog and send it to her and Grandpa. I eventually quit doing that too, but thankfully, my parents took over the job so Grandma always knew waht was going on. She was one reason I have been so faithful in updating this blog. It had replaced the letters I used to faithfully write to her as a child.

Grandma was so proud of her grandkids and her great grandkids. Just a few years ago she gave me a scrapbook filled with newspaper clippings from my high school days. She clipped every box score and every article about the Bison girls basketball team and put it in that album. She always wanted to see Lexi play ball, but never made it. She did make it to a choir performance. She was so impressed and talked about that concert for months.  And every year, Grandma and Grandpa made it to my kids' birthday party. They never stayed long, but Grandma always had her disposable camera along, to document the day. Grandma was always smiling and always polite. She loved visiting with my friends and my in-laws.

There are so many things I miss about my grandma. She used to make us Christmas ornaments every year. I have a box full of them. She loved magazines, and was constantly subscribing to them for me. Just today I got a Taste of Home magazine in the mail, with a card saying it was a gift from Jeannette Parker. I haven't been able to look at it yet. My eyes filled with tears just reading the label. Even when she was sick, Grandma was thinking of others. What an inspiration. I witnessed that the first time she was in the hospital too, after her heart attack last fall. She was so polite to the nurses, and even though I knew she felt awful, she cracked jokes and smiled. She was a very strong lady, and was determined to be a lady, no matter what.

The last time I talked to my Grandma was on December 27th. She sounded so good! She called to wish Brad and me a happy anniversary. We celebrated 13 years. And on the same day, she and Grandpa celebrated 64 years of marriage. I told her what a good example they were for us, and how I hoped Brad and I will someday celebrate 64 years together. We joked that December 27th must be a lucky day. I am so proud to share my anniversary with such an amazing couple.

Grandma Parker made a lasting impression on me and I will never forget her. It is because of Grandma Parker, I write thank you notes. She is the reason I love a good book, pecan pie and a nicely set table. I feel guilty for not calling and visitng more, and for not going to the hospital the last time she was here. But I also know Grandma forgives me, and loves me anyway. I know I won't get a phone call from her today. There will be no birthday card with her perfect handwriting. But she is with me, watching me from above. I will do my best to make her proud.

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