i was just told that my grandmother passed away. she was 80, i believe. a very strong and determined woman, she raised 5 children, only to outlive three of them. she eloped at the age of 16, marrying my grandfather who was about to enter the navy during world war II. both parents disapproved of their relationship, so he came to her window and she ran away. they remained married for more than 50 years before he passed away a couple of years ago.
i'll never forget her telling me the story of their first meeting. she was playing softball, and my grandfather saw her playing, and ran up, spun her around, and kissed her, right in front of everyone. she punched him in the face. it was love.
most of my earliest and fondest memories involve them. they did the typical grandparent-y things, such as feed me lots of treats and take me shopping. but they were much more than just the typical holidays and special visit relatives.
to say i had a tough childhood would be an understatement, but i'm going to leave it at that. when i was 13, the summer before i was to enter high school, i was kicked out of my house. my grandparents generously took me in, caring for me and supporting me, eventually obtaining guardianship over me. i lived with them through high school, and seasonally during college. i felt so fortunate. my grandmother had diabetes and osteoporosis, which caused her to continually break her hips and legs until finally she was moved to a hospice/nursing home to receive better care. she fought bouts of depression and the eventual onset of alzheimer's before passing away.
her strict and devout baptist faith often caused the two of us to have heated discussions regarding religion and lifestyles. when i was six weeks old, she started taking me to church, and i regularly attended through a good portion of middle school, until puberty hit, and i became questioning and resentful toward a very close-minded faith. my grandmother loved jerry falwell and anita bryant, and i distinctly remember her sitting me down and asking me if i knew what homosexuality was and how it was evil. i never told her i'm gay. she once told me she wanted to live long enough to see me graduate from college and marry a nice boy. i told her that she shouldn't hold her breath, lol.
regardless of our political and personal differences, i admired her greatly. she was a strong woman, and basically raised her children on her own, as my grandfather owned a trucking company and was rarely home. she got a job at a time when women were supposed to stay at home, as a secretary and bookkeeper, and later worked part time at a grocery store, just because she loved to work. she watched one child die of crohn's disease, and buried another in the horrors of vietnam. a third died of alcoholism-induced diabetes, followed shortly by her husband, the single love of her life besides god. she's seen more tragedy and hardship than seems possible.
yet the woman was unshakable, and when angered, angels feared to tread. she was 5'2", and though my grandfather was 6'4" and a tough tattooed naval officer, he stayed out of her way. she was also charitable, loving, generous, and forgiving. i love her very much, and she'll be sorely missed. RIP