Far too many people have left this world far before their time. Cancer and heart disease have taken people I love at relatively young ages. Cancer has actually taken family away from me before I ever had a chance to know them.
When I stumbled across this post by Tric a couple of weeks ago, I pondered the question. I thought of my Aunt Shirley, who was taken by cancer when I was 18. I thought of my Uncle Dave, whom cancer took when he was only 52. I thought of my Uncle Tom who, though he lived a full life, I still miss.
They were all wonderful, loving people who had unforgettable smiles and a zest for life. Any one of them could disarm you with their sense of humor, and bathe you with love. If I had to choose one person, though, that person would be my maternal grandmother.
Though I was seven when she died, I still remember the day we got the news. It was July 2, 1984. It was blazing summer day, the sun assaulting me with ultraviolet heat. I was sitting on the front porch fiddling around with a toy. The front door was open, but the screen door closed, so I heard when the phone rang. Seconds later I heard the wail of my mother as she was assaulted with the news that her mother had suffered a massive heart attack and died.
Being the ignorant and gauche seven-year-old I was, I made a snide comment about my mother crying. I didn’t know at the time I had lost my grandmother, but I felt incredibly small after I found out why my mother had been crying.
I wept openly at my grandmother’s funeral. As I sat there, tears pouring relentlessly from my eyes as the preacher spoke, my cousin, three years my senior, mocked me for crying. He told me to man up. I was stunned by his words. Of course, that cousin is a now far cry from that cold-hearted 10-year-old he was then.
My grandmother was an amazing woman. My mother is like her in a lot of ways. Extremely intelligent. Unforgettable smile. Hearty laugh. Friendly demeanor. Silly and sarcastic sense of humor. Very affectionate with her children and grandchildren.
Every time we pulled up to my grandmother’s house I would ask my mother if I had to let Grandma kiss me. My grandmother always attacked us with kisses the moment we walked through her front door. My mother always told me, yes, I would have to suffer the embarrassment one more time. I would give anything to be attacked again.
Sadly, I don’t remember many things about my grandmother since I was so young when she passed. I do, however, remember certain things. She laughed at us often. We, my brothers and I, were evidently very entertaining to her. I remember spaghetti dinners. Lots and lots of spaghetti dinners. My grandmother was Italian and cooked Italian. We always had spaghetti at her house. I remember the limp she walked with due to a deformation in her leg which was a result of contracting polio as a child. I remember her glowing smile and the thick lenses in her glasses. I remember the layout of her home, the home in which my mother grew up.
My grandmother was 62 when death claimed her. While that’s not terribly young, it’s not exactly a full life in my selfish opinion. She has an entire horde of grandchildren and half of them never knew her.
There are quite a few people I’d love to have one more hour with, but since I have to narrow it down to one to answer this question, it’s Grandma. Hands down. I’d love to spend one more hour with her.