Ok…so the other day after receiving news that they had placed my grandma on hospice, and the fact that I was really going to lose her hit home (like a ton of bricks), which caused random water works to hit while I was at work, which in turn made it difficult to actually work because you didn’t want everyone asking you questions and the patient’s were starting to think I was an over sensitive nurse <forbid> because I looked like I was really touched about their story they were telling me. But in reality I couldn’t breath due to my allergies that had decided to activate times one-hundred that morning and I had been crying in the med room when the random water works would hit when thoughts of my grandma would come to mind…I was a mess.
If you know me at all, you know I often work through my ‘mess’ by writing. So I wrote. I did a blog that day, hoping that it would be able to be read to my grandma by one of my relatives that were with her while she was still cognitive enough to understand that I love her more than she knows…and she has been a great example. It was, and I was glad that I was able to do that because by the time I got to her on Friday she was already non-verbal and did not realize people were with her. She would randomly squeeze your hand, but she was fading fast.
Also if you know me at all, you know the other coping mechanism I have other than writing is sarcasm. Sometimes it probably shouldn’t be used, but it is how I cope. I also have a bad habit of joking when it is not a good time, or when it should all be serious and thoughtful. I would rather laugh than cry, and I have been crying enough the past two days to fill my quota…so today I am writing a fun blog, some sarcasm, some crazy, a glimpse into the life as a grandchild of Christine Irene March-Foster.
As in my previous post I spoke of RoseAnn, she was my aunt that had epilepsy and mild MR. She lived way past her initial “date” that she was supposed to make it and she taught us a lot of things. We learned to be quiet. Often my grandma would very quietly, but firmly, tell us that we needed to be quiet and “settle down” — due to the loud noises sometimes causing Rose to have a seizure. That was a big order for a group of kids (seven of us all within a six year age span). Rose also taught us the joy of coloring, singing Jesus loves me, Don’t mess with me Toot Toot, and smile wider than our face when happy. This is some of the lessons learned at Grandma’s house.
Ice cream. I blame grandma for the addiction to ice cream, and for KNOWING that it’s a food group — if anyone tells you any different, remove that negativity from your life. She would always have some in her freezer and it was part of the bedtime routine. If not at bedtime she would suggest a ‘trip to town’ to stop at Sonic for a blast. She has definitely passed the love of ice cream, and night time rituals down to her children, grandchildren, and further still.
Belching. Some of you just thought “oh my word, how gross”. Family may have chuckled. Grandma had GI issues, and she could burp any grown man under the table and shake the windows. To the point that if you look up “belch” in the dictionary it would have the definition “noun: Grandma Foster” beside it. Because us kids made a noun out of the fact, and if you were able to pull off a good juicy burp we would say “That was a Grandma Foster One”. Then of course we would see who could get the best burp, that then led to us seeing who could say the alphabet while burping (my cousin Shila would win).
Drive by shootings and random holes in the wall. We all grew up around guns, it’s part of life in the country (if you’re a gun activist reading this, please no comments — we know safety). My dad would keep guns at my grandma’s house, until Kenny (my step-grandfather) decided one day to test his theory that my dad wound’t leave a loaded gun in her house. He took the gun out of the dresser, pointed at the wall, and said “See” as he pulled the trigger and blew a hole in the wall. Kenny should have never doubted Grandma, or what my dad would do. Grandma called and had dad come remove the objects from her house never to bring them back. The hole was fixed and gun safety was reiterated to everyone, but especially Kenny.
Speaking of guns, grandma also survived a ‘drive by shooting’. It was actually a bunch of stupid kids that were shooting at road signs as they drove down E-Highway. Grandma had just sat down in a chair (not her normal one or she would have met her demise that day) and she heard a ‘bang’ then the bullet logged in the wall across the front room, making it’s mark in a picture of my Uncle Alden. Not sure what happened to those delinquents, but again my dad was at my Grandma’s fixing a hole in the wall that was caused by a bullet. More gun safety was taught that day.
The ‘Corner Store’. Not really the name of it, I think it was called ‘Bowen’s’ but that may be wrong too. The Bowen’s owned it I do know that (Bill and Rose). Grandma would give us a dollar and send us for candy — we could get 10 cent boxes of Boston baked beans, lemon heads, and fire balls; along with 3 cent gum; suckers…all kinds of goodies. Then a dollar went a long way. She would have us bring her back a Pepsi and a three musketeer. We considered it a treat, but I think Grandma used it as a way to get a moment of peace and quiet. It’s amazing on the view you have as an adult vs. what you thought as a kid. <smile>
Mothballs. Can the family say AMEN! This is a smell that will FOREVER be linked to grandma. I am pretty sure that if she had invested in their stock that she alone would have made herself a millionaire. She felt it was the answer for everything, and the more you have the better off you were. It was so powerful that you could leave her house smelling like mothballs. She would add extra under the house every spring, regardless if she needed them or not. If we would go somewhere else and smell the aroma of mothballs, it’s was always like ‘It smells like Grandma’s”. Some people may equate the smell of apple pie or baked goods to their grandmother…mine will forever be mothballs.
Persimmons. Never trust a fresh off the tree juicy fruit. Grandma would take us out to the persimmon tree, before they were ripe, and tell us how good they were. Never have I ever tasted anything so bitter (though a few years ago, I was able to turn the tables on a friend and Nathan experienced the awful taste of a green persimmon). We then would cut them open to see inside the seeds, to determine our winter (spoon, knife, or fork) — and yes there are different insides to the seeds.
Dominos. Many a weekend or summer nights, after playing all day outside we would gather around the table and play dominos, uno, or spoons. The random game of spoons sometime could be lethal, but we all survived with a stealthiness and lightening quick reflexes.
Darkness, heat, and no TV. Grandma did not often use her overhead lights, she felt it would save on electric. We would be allowed to use the lamps, which she would be 25 watt lightbulbs in. If and when we did turn the overhead light on, the joke was to all say ‘hello’ to one another because it was like we were seeing one another for the first time. <LOL>. She did not find it funny. Grandma also did not allow the air to be below 74, occasionally we would bump it down to get it cooled off (there were 45 of us in our immediate family, the house would get warm when we all showed up and added all the body heat). FORBID if it was winter and Grandma had control of the wood burning stove…egad!! She would have us wearing beach worthy clothes in the front room. Definitely wear layers that could be removed, because it was going to be warm up in there. The TV was banned if there was a storm brewing, or if it was raining. In fear of everything being struck by lightening, it all got unplugged. Which caused problems, because then you had a group of kids that couldn’t go outside (because of the rain) stuck inside with nothing to do (because everything had to be unplugged). We would eventually either color or play a game…but at the time we felt that we were being punished.
Iodine and campho phenique. THE CURE ALL. If you were at grandma’s and got a cut or a scrap, you knew you were going home with war paint. Ramona (our aunt that is more the age of the grandkids than the ‘kid kids’) walked through life with a lot of red fingers. It was grandma’s Macgyver move…everything was made better with iodine and campho phenique…regardless!!
But mostly we learned LOVE and acceptance, and that it didn’t matter who, what, when or where…once you were part of the family, you were family. My grandma divorced my Grandpa March before I was born, yet the March clan (which is what I call them) still called her Aunt Christine, would stop and visit, and she would go to family gatherings or funerals. There was no shunning (though she did ban Grandpa some because that was a rocky situation); she always had open arms. We have so many grafted in members in our family, and people that were not ‘born’ bloodline wise to us; but they are ours. And once you are brought in, you are always part of the group. You may not come to family dinners or all the events, but you know that if you need help or ANYTHING you know that you can call on us and we will be there. No questions asked.
This morning my Grandma joined my aunts (Roseann and Caludette) and uncle (Alden); her mother (Granny Gentry), along with my grandfathers (Sam and Kenny) in her eternal rest. I prayed last night that it would happen sooner than later, I did not want her to suffer or prolong her journey here since she was done with the race. God answered that prayer, and now I am left with the lessons learned at grandma’s house. Godspeed Grandma…until we see you again. Love Always.