We drove to the Oregon Coast after hearing the news of my grandmother’s passing. While I try to be rational about these things, I did need some time to
say goodbye and reflect on her presence in my life. She always loved flowers and so I picked flowers along the way to make a small offering for her. My mom asked me to write something about her and this is what I came up with.
If I hadn’t met my memere and had her in my life, I may never have learned that you can tell if a storm is coming by the way the leafs turn in the trees. I may never have learned that the best water to wash your hair in is fresh rain water. I may never have learned that it is possible to get straight A’s and be a good student while skipping school, as long as you are hanging out with your grandmother at home during her visits; who would expect a teacher to write her grand-daughter notes to keep her home from school? I may never have developped my culinary skills if she hadn’t let me come up with my first recipe; a mixture of ketchup, pepper and vinegar in my gravy before dumping it over my fries when she treated us to take-out from the chipstand. I may never have learned the major food groups: Pepsi, Bravo sauce, Eagle Brand, gravy, spaghetti, Ah Caramels, instant coffee and cigarettes. I may have been forced to each yucky chunks of tomatoes in my food (I love tomatoes now, mere, you would be proud). I may never have learned that you can rebel but have the appearance of conforming. I may never have seen and heard true beauty and love when her and my mom sang together, usually at Christmas. I may never have laughed when you broke the rules and learned to break them too; no seatbelts and smoking in the bathroom. I may never have learned that cats are the devil and should be avoided and that dogs absolutely love cheese (Buddy loved it when you visited). I may never have experienced fun, laughter and silliness due to her eclectic and eccentric sense of humour; you took photos with a banana at my graduation and drew on your clothing at Christmas. I may never have laughed at dirty jokes because they were always funnier when you told them. I may never have experienced unconditional love, admiration, and camaraderie because memere made you feel like you were part of a special and unique tribe in her presence and from afar. I may never have developed my ability to be critical and accepting at the same time.
I am happy that memere left the convent and chose a different life for herself. As a teacher, she made a difference in the lives of many people from the town she lived in. As a mother she was a hero to her 5 children. As a grandmother she was also your hero and your friend, the one you wanted to visit more than anyone else. Her life was not easy but she always found a way to inject fun, love, and laughter into things. When I think about my mom, and my aunts and uncles, I see a little of her in each one, and so she will live on in you, and all of us.
As memere has left us for a better place, where she will be watching over us, caring for us, but most of all, laughing at our silliness; I can already hear her contagious laughter echo in my mind. I know I will be okay, and that we all will because she taught us how to know when a storm is coming, and to make the most of it by putting on our bathing suits and flip flops, and dancing in the rain, while washing our hair. It’s not everyday that you can wash your hair in the rain but when you get the chance to, you just have to do it and know that’s what memere would want you to do.