As I was growing up, I remember my grandmother bragging about me - a lot. She even submitted to a local newspaper column called "Bragging Grandparents." She would tell anyone who would listen - grocery store workers, high school friends she bumped into at Denny's, the servers at Denny's (and you get the point) - about my sports, my grades, and my travels.
It kind of embarrassed me then, but now it's a sweet memory and unequivocal proof she was proud of me. I wish I could be humble or nonchalant about it, but as a girl who has lost four "parents" before her 30th birthday, knowing I've made them proud matters.
Yes, my grandmother loved to brag, but now it's my turn to brag about her.
When I was in kindergarten, I had the coolest job in the world. After my morning classes, I would come to the cafeteria for lunch while all the other kids went home. I would eat with the big kids, and then when lunch was over, I was a special helper to the janitor.
He gave me a rag, and I wiped every table and chair in the place. I took my job seriously, making sure every crumb disappeared. My reward was a handful of candy from his office. I got this job because of my grandmother. She was in the kitchen volunteering - cooking and cleaning.
After we both finished our duties, I climbed into her car and drove away with her. When I had to stay in school for the afternoon in pesky first grade, I remember missing those times with my gram.
But we had other times.
She drove me to Girl Scouts and basketball practice. She came to school events like Grandparents Day, and she was there when I won the Geography Bee in third grade.
Each Christmas, she planned a massive holiday party for the whole family - her three children, seven step-children, their spouses, and 23 grandchildren. She even arranged it so Santa could visit. There are pictures from those parties somewhere, pictures of the 23 grandchildren piling on top of each other to squeeze into photographs in front of the Christmas tree.
She planned summer picnics, too. She let me climb the cherry tree in her backyard. She watched me score baskets and spike volleyballs. She watched me walk across the stage before Prom and give my speech at graduation.
When my mother passed away my freshman year of high school, Gram didn't give taking us in a second thought. She immediately sought a lawyer and made sure the adoption was finalized pronto. She struggled immensely in losing my mom, her baby girl. But she was still there for us - her kids and her grandkids.
She was also a firecracker. But more on that tomorrow...
Thanks for letting me share.