Heaven gained an amazing woman on October 1 when my Mema passed away. She was living at home basically independent a little over a month ago, so this unexpected loss has not been easy. And she is actually the first family member I have lost in quite some time.
I can't describe how special my Mema was. She was loved by all who knew her. Really. There was something special about her that just made everyone love her. And we were her life from the time I can remember.
I was the first grandchild. I am named after her, and I named her Mema. Growing up we spent the night at her house on a weekly basis -- sometimes with friends, sometimes just the cousins. We watched MacGyver. And Savannah smiles. We spent many a New Year's Eve in her den with sparkling grape juice. We had spend the night parties, long baths in her huge tub with lots of toys, and rode bikes all over her neighborhood.
She cooked pancakes. Bicycle, balloon, letter, animal pancakes. Anything we requested pancakes. Pancakes and zebra pies were her specialties. And kiwi. That's about all she cooked. She wasn't the cooking kind of grandmother, but she sure was the entertaining kind. She took us all over creation and drove a station wagon well into her 80's just so she could haul us all. The movies, skating, bowling, putt putt, Atlanta, reunions, the beach. She taught us the entire Ferranti and Teicher 6 minute patriotic medley. We sang it when we went on our outings. And we all tried to guess what time we would arrive down to the minute. One time she drove me to Daytona for our family vacation, and we left at 5am so that I would sleep the whole way and not be bored. My request, no problem.
She sang us to sleep in the big bed in the back bedroom (she always slept in the middle). She'll be coming round the mountain. Love lifted me. School days. Minnie the Mermaid. Jesus loves the little children. Jesus loves me. I see the moon. And she told us stories about herself and our parents. And if we said we weren't sleepy, she would say, "Just lie real still." I can hear her now.
I don't know anyone who was more positive. She never complained about anything. She wasn't able to drive after a bleed in her back left her with paralysis, but she never said a word. Even though she was paralyzed, she worked to get mobile again and to go back to her house. And she did well there. She told me that she loved therapy.
Blair loved her. She loved to go to Mema's. One time I headed down her street without telling Blair what we were doing, and Blair said, "We gon' go see Mema right quick!" She knew exactly what she was allowed to play with at Mema's. The knitting yarn, the decorative rooster, and the bowl of pomegranites were her favorites.
And Mema loved all of her grandchildren dearly. She always thought of us. She sent me newspaper articles for as long as I can remember. And letters. She even wrote Blair letters. And the day before she died, as crappy as she felt, she had her nurse write the jewelry channel's number down so that she could order my sister something. (Bless her heart; she loved QVC.) She always thought of us.
She was so good to give us so many memories. I can tell stories from her childhood, my dad's, and from mine. She told me that I went through a phase when I called her Martha Ellen. In a store I told her, "Look Martha Ellen, ain't this cute?" And she let me have my frozen doves at her house (Yes, I played with dead birds.) She loved to tell the story about when I was 2 and my parents were on a cruise. My dove's head fell off at her house, and I told her that my daddy would fix it with the screwdriver.
A visit to Mema’s last September
She loved chocolate, ginger, grapefruit, and egg nog. When I was barely old enough to talk, she taught me to say "I'm a cute little girl with a cute little figure. Stand back boys 'til I get a little bigger."
Every year, she went to the beach with us. She made drip drop castles with us. And she alternated spending the night with my cousin and with us on Christmas Eve. But at some point she was always at both of our houses on Christmas. And she pulled for Georgia Tech one year (us) and Georgia (our cousin) the next. She was all about us. Period.
Man I'm going to miss her. I can still hear her saying "hey dahlin'" just like she said to me when I called or stopped by. She was just so special. I told her that I hope I am half the grandmother she is to me. Her last words to me on Friday were "I love ya, love ya, love ya." She didn't even have to tell me. She showed me my whole life.