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I'm a 30-something wife and mom. My boys are my pride and joy. Together, we are navigating being a forever family post international adoption.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Gramma Dolly

Me and Gramma Dolly
Before the New Year, I lost my Gramma Dolly.

Gram grew up the youngest child in a large, poor family. Her father was a good man and professional rent-dodger. Her mother was patient and saint-like. She was close with her siblings and had an adventurous spirit from a young age.

She lost her first husband to WWII, a fact no one knew until after my Grandfather passed away. Gramma Dolly never spoke of her loss, but saved the plain gold wedding band in her special green jewelry box for decades.

Gram met my Grandfather at a barnstorming party where he was impressed by her composure during his most daring aerial maneuvers. They were married shortly after and moved to a small northern town where Pa was a pilot for the local mine.

Gramma Dolly's adventurous spirit came in handy, because there was no indoor plumbing in her hut in "shanty town." It was a happy day when my Pa bought Gram a chemical toilet that could be emptied by the honey man.

Pa changed careers and the family (now my Mom was in the picture) moved away briefly but soon returned when he was offered a job flying with a float and ski plane airline. Their shack had been sold, so they moved in with family friends. It was tight quarters with 4 adults and 9 kids, but they were also happy times.

Finally, Gram and Pa bought the home they lived in for the rest of their life together. While they weren't rich in money, they were in spirit. When his boss retired, Pa became the owner and operator of the airline. They bought a cottage, the picture of which I use for my background.

Pa passed away from cancer 3 years ago. It became clear pretty quick that he had been pulling most of the weight at home. After a few doctors appointments Gramma Dolly was diagnosed with moderately-advanced Alzheimer's disease. She continued to deteriorate quickly and moved into an assisted living facility and then a nursing home.

When I took Buddy to my home town this past summer, I took him to meet Gramma Dolly. It was important to me that he had the chance to see her face to face. She was taken with Buddy and kept commenting on what a nice and good boy he was. And he wasn't upset or afraid to meet Gram, just a bit confused as to why she kept repeating herself over and over.

I was warned the woman in the nursing home wasn't my Grandmother any more. She didn't remember me, but I remembered her. I could see glimpses of her in the way she gestured her hands and said "Ohhh, well...." before replying to a question. She was kind to my Sweet Boy. Regardless of everything, she was my Gramma Dolly.

When Gramma Dolly died, my Aunt was with her. She was sleeping comfortably and just stopped breathing.

It was important to me to be at her funeral, with my Mom's family, to say goodbye. The service was good with lots of people from the community. The minister spoke highly of her as a member of the church and my Aunt gave a touching eulogy. The choir forgot the refrain of "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" and the minister sang the completely wrong words, and my whole family got a case of the giggles. They are my people.

The interment was moving and sad. Everyone cried. Except me. I don't cry at funerals and I have been to enough by now to know that I probably never will. I am the one who is strong. I hug the people who are crying, hand out Kleenex and give knowing smiles. When everything is done I will cry, but it's not my turn yet.

My Gramma Dolly was 93 years old and was married to my Pa for over 60 years. She had 5 children, 14 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. She always had home-made play-dough, freshie-drink and rice-crispy squares ready. She made the most delicious chocolate chip cookies, blueberry pie and raspberry freezer jam. She was my fun Gramma who water skied, vacationed in tropical places and let us eat ice cream with tons of chocolate syrup. She collected Royal Doulton figurines, decorative spoons and crystal ornaments. She always told me she loved me.

I saved every card and letter she ever wrote me in a hallow Reader's Digest book she gave me years and years ago.

I love my Gramma Dolly and miss her so much.

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