Hello Everyone! For those of you new to the blog, this site is mostly about fashion. However from time to time I like to throw in some personal details.
I wanted to talk about this ring. It was my Grandmother’s wedding band and I wear it now that she is no longer here so I can look down and know a part of her is with me where ever I go.
All of us will lose a loved one at some point in our lives. It’s inevitable. Some of us lose more than others. Some of us don’t have to experience loss until we are older. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve never lost someone I had a very personal relationship with until about a year ago when I lost my grandfather. It was horrible but I was grateful to God that I had a full 24 years with him. Then this past January my Grandmother went as well at 93 years old. It’s been about seven months. I’m so grateful for every bit of time God gave me with her, but I still can’t really come to terms with it. This time not only did someone I love pass away but away went my frequent phone calls, away went someone who truly listened to me, away went my biggest encourager, away went the woman who had shown me there is a God and a way to live a Godly life, and away went one of my most cherished relationships I had ever had. She brought so much joy to every mundane aspect of my childhood/young adult life. She showed me the value of family, love, life, patience, and conversation. She showed me what it meant to love God, love others, and endure heartache. Honestly, I don’t know where to start because there is no way to put into words how much my grandmother meant to me. I could talk for hours without ever scratching the surface of my deep love and respect for her, but I’m going to try.
Let me start from the beginning. My grandmother was born an only child up in the Northeast. From an early age she knew the meaning of loss. Her father passed away when she was only 5 years old. Her mother remarried and she gained a half sister name Florence. She loved my Aunt Florence dearly. She would beam excitement every time they got to speak to each other. When I was little we would drive all the way to Maine from Florida to see her! She cherished having her as a sister. In the last part of Florence’s life she had dimentia. Without fail my grandmother would still call her every Sunday night so she could hear a familiar voice and tell her she missed her (she lived in Maine, my grandmother lived in Florida). It would break her heart that her sister was sick but she saw it as a blessing to still call her and love her. Florence would say she was going to come down and visit her in Florida but my grandmother would go along with it and laugh because she knew that when they were both in their 80’s they wouldn’t be traveling across the country very much. I remember on Sunday nights when I was in high school I would come over just to sit on the couch. She would have finished her weekly call with Florence. She would tell me about how wonderful my Aunt Florence was and tell me stories about her life. She always loved her family deeply.
My grandmother married my grandfather while serving the country as an army nurse.They got married at the court house. I’ve written a post about my grandfather here. My grandfather was so good to my grandmother but like all 60-year marriages there were definitely some ups and downs (I could tell you many stories). No matter what happened (including long stints out of town while in the Navy and as a Truck Driver later) my grandmother always stood by my grandfather’s side. She was a faithful woman who took her marriage seriously and loved my granddaddy without fail. Towards the end of both their lives they both had their minds but my granddaddy (being 7 years younger than my grandmother) was a little more physically agile. So he would help her a lot with making dinner, changing, bathing, getting in and out of the car, moving things etc. I can still picture him bringing her a big Florida Gators mug full of water when she was thirsty and a couple of scoops of Pralines and Cream for desert after dinner, among many other acts of kindness over the years. He would drive her around and bring her walker in and out of the trunk of the car for her while in his 70’s!!! She would joke around that she put up with all his shenanigans over the first 50 years of their marriage so that he would be forced to take care of her in her old age. She always had the best sense of humor. She always made me laugh. She always made me feel better. She saw nearly everything in a positive light yet still acknowledged the reality of it. She took the cards God handed her and always played them the best she could. She taught me that with a great attitude you could usually turn most bad things around. Key word, “usually”! Ha! She showed me that a long marriage is full of sacrifice and selflessness. She taught me that the most powerful/meaningful relationships are those where you put the other persons needs before your own. She taught me that life isn’t always a walk in the park. She would tell me, “it’s hell to get old, Paula” but yet she still aged so gracefully. She would make jokes about her body failing and although she had her moments of disappointment (like when her eyes starting going in the last few years) she was always grateful for another day.
I would see/call my grandmother frequently over my entire life and especially the last three years I have lived in Nashville where I would call her 2-3 times a week most of the time. I still have tons of voicemails from college and living in Nashville that I play when I just need to hear her voice. Some of them are her being funny and some are of her encouraging me. I have one of her telling me to bring a jacket to a football game and one of her telling me she is going to check me into a psych ward ha-ha. She wasn’t kidding either! She was so concerned and caring. I called her all the time but I will never forget the time I was driving to my boyfriend’s house and I called her on the phone. It was only 9 months ago. She had heard about this “blog” of mine but she didn’t fully understand it. I don’t blame her because if I were born in 1922, I probably wouldn’t care to be up on the fashion blog game either. Well it was about 6 months after my grandfather passed away from cancer and I felt compelled to write a post about my grandfather. Let me preface this by saying I use to talk to my grandmother about everything. She knew about every aspect of my life. I’m not kidding when I say I would divulge every detail. EVERYTHING. So this blog post I wrote about my grandfather (her recently passed away husband of 60 YEARS) was no exception to the rule. I knew she would enjoy it. That particular night I pulled over to a gas station and read it to her over the phone (because I was already on the road when I got a hold of her). She cried and cried and cried. She thought it was beautiful that my brother, sister, and I were so close to our grandfather. She was so sad but joyful to hear the words. I then proceeded to tell her how much I loved her (like I always did).
Back to a time long ago: So she married my grandfather and they both moved down to Jacksonville, FL to a street called Ardmore Court. My grandmother had two children, my mother and my Uncle Randy. My grandmother has told me before that she had to move down with two infants (my mom and uncle were only 11 months apart) to a house by herself with no furniture and figure things out on her own until my granddaddy came back in from sea. My grandmother was always a strong independent woman. She was smart, capable of anything, and so good at making friends. She really loved to help other people out and in turn they would do the same for her. She had a gift for making true friends who would be there for her in any situation. I would go out to eat with her and so many of her friends during my childhood. She was always so close to them and had such a special bond with each and every one of them. We would even go on trips with them, including Alaska, the Bahamas, and more! She kept up with so many people. She would teach me about the value of friendship all the time. She would tell me that life is all about enjoying time with friend’s. In her later years she would tell me that friendships are what keep her going for so long (93 years!!) and friendships are the things that motivate you to live another day even when your body starts to give out on you. She would say, “ I may be losing my eyes but at least I can call up a friend and use my mouth.” She was a jokester!!!
After she moved into the little house on Ardmore court she came to find that an unbreakable community had formed. A community I got to slightly experience (40 years later) as a child when my grandparents would throw a July 4th cookout party and a hundred people would show up all of which use to live in the Ardmore Court area. I’ve heard/seen over the years and even more prominently at my grandparent’s funerals all the lives that were touched by my grandmother in this specific neighborhood. It was a special place in time before PlayStation, Xbox, Netflix, cellphones and the Internet where kids only played outside and with their neighbors. My grandma use to tell me about how she would take all the kids on the entire street to the beach for the day and then they would get White Castle hamburgers on the way home. A community where everyone looked out for one another and became lifelong friends. My grandmother would talk to people from her old neighborhood even in her 90’s. She got to see them all one last time when her husband passed 6 months before she did and they all showed up at the funeral.
My grandmother knows the feeling of loss well. The wisdom of pain was something she hid well. I can’t even count the times we would talk about my Uncle Randy because there are so many. I never got to meet my Uncle but I knew him well from all the talks with my grandmother. She loved him with her whole heart until her last breath. She would carry his picture in her wallet even 30 years after his death. My Uncle Randy (my Mom’s only brother) was my Grandmother’s first born and only boy. Although he grew up in a suburb of Jacksonville, FL he found himself in college at the University of Tennessee- Martin studying animal husbandry. With the help of my grandparents he bought a pig farm after college and later got engaged. A short time before he went to set up the farm, my grandmother was sitting at the kitchen table with him in Jacksonville when he said, “Mom, I just want you to know that in case anything ever were to happen, you never need to worry about where I’m going. I’m a strong believer in Jesus Christ and you won’t need to ever worry.” My grandma has told me about this conversation many times. She had no idea that soon after, he would be working on the farm in a storm with his fiancé when he would be accidently killed by electricity from a power line. His fiancé as a witness. My Grandmother would explain to me that nothing is worse than losing a child. She said she would feel such unbearable pain. She would say when you bring a child into the world; your only wish is that you never have to see them go out of the world too. She said not a day went by that she didn’t think of him. She taught me that although the loss is unbearable, Randy would have wanted her to still live her life so that’s what she did. She is grateful for the conversation he had with her about his faith.
My first trip home to Florida after her passing, I was in her room looking in her desk at some of the cards, letters, and things she had collected over her lifetime. Parts of the collection were letters my Uncle Randy had written her from college (30 years ago!!!). They were such sweet genuine letters about how different it was in Tennessee and how much he missed her. I thought to myself, what a loving mother she was. I thought about how they were finally together again in heaven and how happy she must be right now to get to see him again after all these years (almost 30). I wallowed in heartache and took a moment to see all the notes and cards that showed how loved she was. It was like she had stored pieces of all her loved ones into a drawer of her desk. Some things dated back over 50 years. Most of those events happened before my time, but she did so much for me just in the last 25 years. She made my life so much better.
If I could sum up our relationship in two phrases it would be ones I could pull from some of her voicemails I still have. The first being, “Paula, you’ve got to put some starch in your spine.” and “Paula, when you hurt I hurt for you.” “Paula, I love you.”
When I was in elementary and middle school I would get anxiety on Sunday nights because for some reason I would be nervous that another week had passed and time was passing too quickly. I was a weird kid. I would stay up all night worrying. I would call my Grandmother in the middle of the night and she would always calm me down and tell me everything is going to be okay. When I started dating in high school and college, I would get my heart broken. I would call my Grandmother in the middle of the night and tell her all about it and look for answers. She was always patient with me. She was always understanding. One year for Christmas she got me a plaque that said, “No boy is worth crying over and the one who is won’t make you cry.” She helped guide me so I wouldn’t make any mistakes that I would regret. She did this throughout my entire life. I always cherished her opinion. She was my best friend and I miss her everyday.
Lastly, she fueled my faith more than anyone I had ever met. I came to learn about God at an early age. When most kids grow up they tend to stray away. Because of my close relationship to my Grandmother I was brought closer to God with age. I would experience God within our relationship through my interactions with her and watching her. We loved each other and we both loved God. We were both believers in Jesus Christ. We both loved Gospel music. We would talk about what its going to be like to die. We would talk about how beautiful the world is and all the wonderful people we loved. We would talk about why we think God took her Randy away. We would talk about the beauty of life. I can remember so many times I would tell her that I didn’t know what I was going to do without her one day. She would reassure me that everything would be okay. I am sad she is gone, but most of all, I am so thankful for my time with her and everything she did for me. I am SO thankful to God for giving me her as my grandmother. I love her so much.
She was like no other.