Last Sunday, at about 9:30 am, the Last Wamboo left us for a better place. My Granny was a very quiet woman, and in fact, my aunt even described her as “meek” in her obituary. I never really thought of Granny as meek, at least in modern usage of that term, and I don’t think that’s what my aunt meant either. Granny was quiet and reserved (thanks to my friend Andrea for those words, over margaritas at the end of a multiple margarita kind of week), but she was strong. And when she did speak, it was worth listening to.
For the last two weeks, from the time my father called to tell me that hospice was taking over her care and she had maybe two days at best, through her death a full week later, and even during her services and since then, I’ve been noticing all the little things I do in life that were somehow influenced by her. Here are a few:
- When I don’t have to set my alarm for the ungodly hour of 6 AM to get two kids off to school in the morning, I naturally wake up at 7. This is from years of waking up at 7. Granny put it this way, “Seven is a good time to wake up.” She lived right next door, and in the summers and on school breaks she would indeed call me, or even come over and physically shake me awake, at 7. Because it was 7. And 7 is a good time to wake up.
- I am careful about my consumption of bread and pasta. Because Granny said so. Long before the medical community told us to avoid processed carbs, my Granny said, “The thing you need to do in maintaining your figure is to watch your breads. They make you fat.” A couple of years ago, I started working with a trainer, and the first thing she said was, “Watch your breads. They make you fat.” Well, that’s how I heard it anyway.
- I have a chore routine. Granny, who was a full-time homemaker, did “laundry on Mondays, ironing and the rest of the laundry on Tuesdays, deep-cleaning on Wednesdays, shopping on Thursdays, and on Fridays I don’t know what I did. Why are you asking?” I was asking because I was a new mom looking for order in a chaotic world centered around an unpredictable little butterball who liked to eat, scream, and poop. It worked. (She paid bills on Fridays.)
- I know how to fold a contour sheet. (Make a pocket with the folds on one side and tuck the other side in. Or something like that. Mine don’t quite turn out like Granny’s. Maybe I should have paid better attention.)
- Sometimes I “get to things later”. Like the dishes. Or the work issue du jour. Or that thing I don’t have enough information to solve right now but am worrying about anyway. Granny had her routine, but she wasn’t a slave to it. She also had priorities. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to fill the sink when it only has a cup and a spoon in it.
- I exercise. Because imagine being a teenager and, while on an evening walk with your Granny, you are told to “pick up the pace! This is exercise!” She lived to be 97, so there.
- I limit treats. When I was little, our family of four was a Pepsi household. By that, I mean that we bought a 6-pack of Pepsi (in the glass bottles) at the National Supermarket, and we returned the bottles IF WE’D EVEN FINISHED THEM the next week. I preferred Coke, however, and my grandparents’ household next door was a Coke household. So, when I was thirsty for a soft drink, I’d put on my little red Keds and traipse right next door into Granny’s kitchen, with its vinyl-topped metal table and red countertops, and ask for a Coke (or a “Co-cola”, as she called it). If she felt it was “a good time for it”, she’d go get one from her pantry, and later when I was tall enough, she’d send me into the soapy smelling pantry to get my own. Granny bought the Cokes in the little green bottle, and she would pour me a DIXIE CUP FULL and then warn me about the perils of drinking Co-Cola too fast. She never said, and I often wonder what Granny thought about the 7/11 Big Gulp.
I miss her terribly, but I’m coping by having these little moments of gratitude every day. Thank you, Granny, for all the little things.