…was my grandmother. Affectionately called “Gramma” by my brother and me when we were little and then by my children when they came along. She was born in Pennsylvania..the first American born in our family. Her parents emigrated from Poland. Her mother and aunt made the journey together and fell in love here in Pennsylvania. I forget the details, but at some point her parents ran a small store together and eventually had five children.
Gramma grew up in Pennsylvania in a very small town (it’s actually a village, if you can believe that). I don’t think she went to college and I don’t know if she had any hobbies or what she did for fun when she was younger. (When she was older she had me to provide hours of entertainment!)
Eventually she met the man she married and settled down, had two children of her own (my mom and aunt). She was a working woman, but I don’t know if she was working while her children were young. She was working when I was little.
Gramma and Grampa settled in Olean, NY and lived there the rest of their lives. In 2003 Gramma was diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy in Buffalo, NY when she died suddenly and unexpectedly from an aneurysm. She died one month before her 80th birthday. On Mother’s Day 2003 I was at the funeral home with my mother and aunt choosing her casket and making arrangements. I helped decide what clothes to bury her in and I was the only one who knew where her birthstone pin was. It was a gold circle and had birthstones of her kids, her grandkids, and her great-grandkids. She wore it every time she left the house. I couldn’t bear to see her leave us without it.
It’s been nine years since I lost her, and it doesn’t feel any better. I had that last picture and a few others hanging on my fridge for a while, but had to take them down because I cried every time I walked in the kitchen.
Gramma wasn’t perfect, she wasn’t a saint, but she was laid back, she was funny and she always helped me see the calmer side of things. One time my mother called me because her pipe broke and there was water everywhere. My mother is a panicker. I got upset and called Gramma to tell her what was going on and she said, ‘Stuff like that happens.” I was all “Oh. Yeah. Mom will probably live.” I put my keys down (I was about to run to Mom’s aid. After I called Gramma I figured Mom was a big girl and she could probably handle it. Later mom said “Yeah. Thanks. :P” ).
My first baby was born at the end of August which meant I was big and uncomfortable all summer while it was hot. I was emotional and I didn’t even want to be around me. Gramma and Grampa had come down for a visit and Gramma asked me if I wanted to come stay with them for a few days.
Me: “No. I’m all whiny and yelly and I don’t want to end up hurting your feelings.”
Gramma: “Oh that’s ok. I don’t listen to you anyway.” 🙂
She made me laugh and I went to her house for a while so I could stop staring at my apartment walls.
In short…Gramma made everything bearable. And some of the things that remind me of her the most are pink peonies. When I was little I lived next door to Gramma and Grampa and along one side of her back yard she had a row of pink peonies. They were lovely and scented and always seemed to be dancing in the sunshine.
Kind of like Gramma.
Wherever you are now, Gramma, I hope you know I still love you, still try to call you sometimes, and still try to be someone you’d be proud to call family. I miss you.
Happy birthday, Gramma. I’ll see you when I get Home. ❤