We are all connected even when we are gone. Today is my Grandma’s birthday and a year and 2 days ago she passed away, but I still feel a connection to her like she’s still here. Like I could still pick up the phone and call her and she would be on the other line sitting in her living room with the news blasting in the background, a cigarette in her hand and a smile on her face. I miss her dearly, but I don’t feel like I have truly lost her. I think about her all the time and when those memories start flooding in, I feel surrounded by love and the connection is strong.
My Grandma took my sister and I in after my Dad had a heart attack and surgery. We went from living in our car to having a bedroom, clothes, barbies, and all the food we could want. We were so grateful to have some stability in our lives. Our relationship started then. Some of my best childhood memories come from that year that I lived with her. There were the times my sister and I would pretend to be models and put on fashion shows in the living room. Or the times we would conspire to play a joke on my Grandma by putting lemon juice in her coffee when she fell asleep on the couch. She would wake up and drink it, her face would cringe, but then she would laugh. Little did she know, that by not getting mad at us, it would only make us want to try again, but the next time we moved onto other things we found in the fridge like miracle whip. That one didn’t go over so well.
Game night was my favorite night of the week. Grandma’s neighbor used to come over and we’d break out the games. Our favorite was Kismet. If you don’t know it, it’s like Yahtzee, but with colored dice. We would play all night, talking and giggling as the hours passed. We wouldn’t stop until it was time to go to bed. My sister and I still like to play games whenever we get together, but now we have our husbands to join in on the fun.
My love of crafts and being creative I owe to my Grandma too. When Granny moved to Oklahoma, her new house had a craft room in it. Whenever we went to visit, we’d go shopping and find things we wanted to work on and then we’d sit in the craft room, watching old movies on VHS and paint, bead, sew or whatever else we found for hours while catching up on each others lives.
When I was in college, I would spend the summers in Oklahoma making things with Grandma. We’d take short little road trips to find the right beads or material we needed for the projects we were working on. We also spent a lot of time meeting a lot of my family and learning about my Native American heritage that I had no idea about until then. She took me to meet elders, to go through paperwork at the BIA, and attend tribal meetings, etc. She wasn’t always feeling well, but she wanted me to find the answers I sought and often pushed herself to help me find them.
When we needed a break from delving into everything, we would go to Tulsa and visit my Aunt Rosie. She lived alone and loved to have company. We’d take her out to lunch and then we’d go play bingo at one of the big Cherokee Bingo halls. You have never played bingo till you’ve played bingo in one of those places. We had so much fun, drinking coffee, daubing our sheets, and eating fried okra.
Then there was that one summer when OJ decided to make a run for it in that white Bronco. We spent a lot of time that summer watching talk/gossip shows, reading tabloids, and keeping up with the trial. My Grandma and Aunt Rosie were obsessed. It was so funny to sit and listen to them go back and forth on the latest tidbit to come out that day. There was this one day, when were watching some talk show and a bad weather warning interrupted the show. The clouds were spinning above Tulsa and there was a possibility it would and turn into a tornado. My Aunt Rosie got all worked up about where to put Granny and I since we all wouldn’t fit in her bathtub with her and she didn’t have a cellar. We all ran around her tiny house trying to decide and finally just settled on them squeezing into the coat closet and me in the tub. Once we got into position, I could hear them go back to talking about the trial and fighting over their own theories, etc. like there wasn’t anything else going on. I just laid in the bathtub listening to them and smiling to myself. I’ll never forget that day.
There are lots of days I could tell you about, but that could take forever. She was there for a lot of the best times of my life and I plan to keep that connection to her by cherishing those memories and remembering the things she taught me. I was lucky to have such a fabulous Grandma. I will always love and miss her.
📸 *the pic above shows a quilt my Granny and I made together with a picture of Granny, my sister Sarah (left), and me (right)