I met Grandmom Doris when I was around 7, so I've known her for the better part of my life. She is my dad's wife's grandmother, but that doesn't mean I loved her any less. I have so many fond memories of making soup with her on rainy days, making mini pigs in blankets in her kitchen before parties with our cousins, walking to the McDonald's that was around the corner from her house, hearing the ice cream man and knowing Grandmom had a drawer with "Mister Toftee" money in it, because she knew how much we loved vanilla ice cream with rainbow jimmies.
She told us stories of when growing up, and we listened to her in awe. She had such a strong voice and the best laugh, and she touched the hearts of so, so many.
I remember playing hide and seek in her huge house and playing dress-up with her old clothes. We did Thomas Kinkade puzzles together, and of course, we sang and danced together too. We always had family Christmas parties at her house, and we loved doing word searches together. When she got her automatic stair climber, my sister and I loved to ride it up and down and up and down.
From the moment she met my sister and me, we were her girls. Our dad would say he'd bring his girls over to see her and she'd immediately correct him and remind him that we were hers.
Last Wednesday morning, we lost Grandmom Doris. We knew it was going to happen, and we've known for years now that it was coming. But, that didn't make it any easier to hear by any stretch of the imagination. We went to visit her the Saturday before, knowing it may very well have been the last time we'd ever see her.
I knew her time was coming to an end, but I didn't know she had only four days left.
I didn't want to go see her at first. I wasn't sure what kind of mental or physical state she was in, and I didn't want my final memories of her to be negative ones of her lying helpless in her bed.
I decided to go, and I will forever be so glad that I did. She was alert, and even sort of remembered my sister and me. Immediately upon seeing her, I realized how much I had missed her over the last few years.
She had pretty severe dementia, and she struggled to remember a lot, especially towards the end. She wanted my sister and me to sing for her, and of course, we did. We sang her John Denver, and we sang her L-O-V-E by Nat King Cole. It was on her CD as "Mama's Song," which is what all the adults in the family called her. She even sang some of it with us.
When we said goodbye to her for the last time, she took our hands and she told us "I'll never forget my girls," and she wouldn't let go.
We'll never forget you either Grandmom.
She lived a good life, surrounded by a family and friends who loved her unconditionally. She was 89, and all 89 of her years were spent loving those family and friends right back. I'd give anything just to hear another one of her stories.
I am so grateful that I had the privilege of knowing and loving such a wonderful lady for most of my life. Rest easy Grandmom Doris, you were and still are loved and cherished more than you could ever know. We love you.