Even though I can’t remember the last Christmas we spent together, the world, and especially the holidays, feel different now that I know she’s gone. Now that I can no longer call her. Or hug her. Her birthday was difficult as well; Grandma would have been 80 on December 17.
We had a special bond, grandma and I. She always got me. She never judged, never criticized. She just understood.
Once you’ve had a bond like that, it’s really hard when it’s gone.
My one regret is that I didn’t adequately express to her how I felt when I had the chance. I tried, but the perfect words were not there. I did a much better job at her funeral. Somehow, I hope she could hear it, when I said these words:
Loray is my grandmother. Not only did she take care of me when I was little, while my parents worked, but she was one of the people who understood me best in the world. And, ok, she spoiled me rotten. She was the kind of grandma who wasn’t afraid to get down and play, or look silly, such as when we played dress up. She was the kind of grandma who always listened, really listened, no matter what age I was and respected my thoughts and feelings.
I was the reason she took one of her few jobs outside the home. When my parents enrolled me in pre-school so I could socialize with other children, grandma quickly became the pre-school’s cook. Which suited me just fine. Not long after, my parents relented on that decision.
Yes, grandma had a bit of a stubborn streak when it came to getting what she wanted. When my parents made a rule that she could only buy me presents on holidays, grandma soon started celebrating every holiday on the calendar and some that were not, including Groundhog Day, and the opening day of hunting season.
Grandma never met a stranger, because within a few minutes of meeting someone she would somehow have charmed their entire life story out of them.
When I think of grandma there are many other adjectives that come to mind: strong, feisty, caring, hard-working, and loyal are a few. She was an accomplished cook who made, among her many specialties, legendary lasagna that her family devoured even though she didn‘t eat lasagna herself. She always had time and patience to bake cookies with her grandchildren, even when we were so little we needed to stand on a stool to help.
Grandma Ray, as I called her, taught me many things. She taught me the importance of making time for family, friends, and to do our part to help make the world a better place. She taught me that it’s okay to have strong opinions and that you should stand up for what you believe in. She taught me the value of setting an example through your daily actions and how much more important that can be than the words you say.
Perhaps most importantly, grandma and grandpa taught me what true love really looks like, and that even after 61 years, it’s possible to still have and be in love with your best friend.
Loray is my grandma, and for that I am forever thankful. Her presence and love touched many lives and she will be dearly, dearly missed, but she will live on in our hearts. I love you Grandma, and I always will.