November 1st 2007, I said goodbye to my grandmother. Actually, I said goodbye to her the night before at the nursing home—knowing she may not make it through the night. I woke up to the phone ringing early the next morning.

My mom and I had made the trip to Cape Cod to see her. The next morning when my grandfather came out of his room after answering the phone, of course, we all knew. I watched as he and my mom hugged and just like that, my life as I knew it was no more; the woman I’d heard tell me to shut up your face for 34 years was gone. And you know what — having a grandma in your life for 34 years just isn’t long enough.

Man, I loved her. She was a feisty, classy lady and to this day I miss her terribly, every day. We had nicknames for each other; I called her Bitch and she called me Slut. Even in the nursing home, the year before at Christmas, when she could barely speak; let’s just say she had no problem calling me a slut, loud enough for the world to hear. It was our thing and it was beautiful.

All her children made it in time to see her the night before; she held on until the last one could be there, that feisty bitch.

The morning she died, we all went to the nursing home to say our final goodbyes and I must have lost five pounds in tears. As we were leaving, my mom asked me to drive her around the cape and take her to the beach where she had so many fond memories with her mother. I did and it may actually be one of my favorite days ever – spending that time with my mom. The only thing I wanted was to take away her sadness, but as I took a step back, I realized she just needed to take that day to remember, mourn and honor her mom. I was lucky enough to be there and share that day with her, and in my heart of hearts, I know grandma was with us. That is a priceless moment in my life that I’ll hold onto forever. Yep, now I’m crying. Well, good. I need to lose five pounds; Grandma would agree and be the first to tell me.

I couldn’t go to her funeral, so I wrote her a letter that my sister read:

Dear Grandma,
                I miss you like crazy and I really want you to know that. But I want you to know I feel you with me all the time, watching over me. I have never been so well behaved; if I keep it up, I may not need those extra prayers to get into heaven. I think about you all the time: the chocolate shakes you used to make me; the insanely long phone calls we had when I was a little girl; those disgusting roast beef on wek sandwiches you’d make (the kids would pretend to eat them but mom would let us throw them out when you weren’t looking); how, during my entire life when I was acting like a brat, you would threaten to leave your pearls to someone else if I didn’t behave; and Vince Gill. When I hear his music, I’m reminded of you. These may seem like trivial memories, but they’re mine; only mine and they make me laugh, smile, cry… and I’ll hold onto them tightly until I see you again. For now, I’ll think of you when I look in the mirror and know I got my blue eyes from you. Grandma, I’ll always love you. I’ll always miss you. I’ll always be thankful I got you for a grandmother. And I’d trade those pearls in a heartbeat for a chocolate shake with you right now.   –November 15, 2007

Right after she died, I put a second set of pierced holes in my ears just so I could wear a pair of her earrings and have her always with me. I’ve worn them for seven years – they never come out; I find myself twisting them when I think of her. Today, on the seventh anniversary of her death, I’ll wear her pearl earrings and necklace, remembering those beautiful 34 years, and I’ll twist those earrings a thousand times. I think of you often. I miss and love you so very much, Grandma.

Now, shut up your face.

Originally posted November 1, 2014.