My phone rang at 7:55 this morning. The caller ID gave an Alabama area code. I just KNEW this was bad news about Grandma. When I answered the phone, the caller identified herself as Lela and said she is the nurse who has been caring for Grandma for the past 4 years while she's been at the nursing home. I was still waiting for the bad news. She didn't have any. She said it had been on her heart all week to call me to talk to me about my grandmother. Apparently, they really bonded these past few years and she just wanted me to know how much she loves my grandma. She said that Grandma is the sweetest lady she's ever worked with and that she has been dreading reading the 24-hour reports each morning when she arrives at work because she was afraid they would indicate Grandma had died. We spoke for 20 minutes and I told her all about the woman my grandmother was before. Before old age caused her mind to fade and her memories to dim. Before she was trapped in a body that wouldn't function properly. Before she was dependent upon other people for her every need.
My Grandma was an amazing woman. She was the original Valley Girl. She was raised in the San Fernando Valley in southern California. She met and married my Grandfather and they adopted two children (my dad and his sister, Linda). She was a wife and mother who became a widow while still in her 40's. I never knew my grandfather, but I know he was wonderful.
She was a widow for many, many years before she re-married. Grandma was a hair stylist who, when it became too difficult for her to stand on her feet all day, began styling wigs for her little-old-lady friends. She married Grandpa Oscar when I was in 6th Grade. They had several happy years together and then she cared for him while Alzheimers slowly took him from her.
She continued to live on her own in Santa Barbara, in the little home they had shared two blocks from the beach. She kept her body active until she was close to 90 years old. She used to walk in her neighborhood and down by the wharf several times each week - until she tripped over a crack in the sidewalk one day and nobody would stop to help her up. She stopped walking for exercise after that.
My grandma was my stability during my childhood. I didn't have a lot of that in my home, but I always knew Grandma was just a letter or a phone call away. She took me to church with her when we lived nearby and I always treasured our Sundays together. We'd go to church, then she'd take me to A&W Rootbeer (drive-in) for root beer and chili dogs, then we'd go to the park before she took me home.
Grandma was always very stylish and kept up with the latest fashion trends. Even as a teenager, I would've worn 90% of the clothes in her closet. I was the only girl I knew whose grandmother wore Jordache Jeans. She wouldn't go outside until her "face" was on. I loved to go shopping with her because she had really great style.
The only bad advice she gave me was to marry my first husband. I found myself a teenage-mother-to-be and she felt I should marry my boyfriend. I did. And a year later when we had our marriage sealed in the Salt Lake Temple of the LDS church, my grandma was so very proud. She had a strong faith the church was so very important to her.
Unfortunately, I was married to a man who didn't love and respect me as a person. When I found myself a young single mother 9 years later, she was as devastated as I was. Then, fifteen years ago I met the sweetest man I've ever known. He loved me and cherished me - and wanted to share his life with me and be a parent to my two sons. The only thing he asked of me was a shared faith - and he was Catholic. When I married Tom, and converted to Catholicism, I broke Grandma's heart - and that broke mine. She never complained or lectured me though. She didn't understand, but she didn't judge. After she met Tom, she took me aside and said, "God knows your heart, Marti. I can see you've married a wonderful man who loves you and values you and I am so thankful to see that. Your Heavenly Father understands everything. I love you and I only want for you to be happy.". What a gift that was for me.
When Marc and Sean were 8 and 6, their father and I took them to California for vacation. Grandma, being the stylin' Grandmother that she was, was trying to figure out what they should call her. She liked "Grandma Green" and "Grandma GG". One of the boys called her "Grandma G Green" and his father said, "Grandma G-String?"... and it stuck. So, Marc and Sean still refer to her as Grandma G-String. She laughed hysterically at it, but I don't think she was overly impressed with her new moniker.
Grandma G-String is going to be reunited with my grandfather within the next day or two. It will be a joyous time for them. I know she's missed him so very much. I will miss her more than I can say, but I have so many wonderful memories of her. I am grateful that she's been with me for so long. Not many people live to be 97 years old. I am blessed to have had such an amazing example of love, faith, style, and grace.