My friend's son Max refers to one of his grandmas as "my friend Grandma." I've never figured out whether there is a comma in there meaning my friend, whose name is Grandma, or if it's Friend Grandma which makes "friend" part of her name. At any rate, I was fortunate for nearly 40 years to have a friend who I called Grandmother. Max and I are very lucky indeed.
I always loved staying at Grandmother's house. There was always something fun to do - making a tutu, watching a movie (not one necessarily approved by my parents), taking a bubble bath in her "fancy" tub with the jet faucet. Even a trip to Wal-Mart was fun. At some point, I started staying with her on Thanksgiving night so we could decorate for Christmas the next day. Once I had a house of my own, she stayed with me after Thanksgiving one year. Somehow she talked me into taking her to do a little shopping on Black Friday afternoon. I never go out on Black Friday, and wouldn't have done it for anyone else.
Last fall, I asked to borrow her sewing machine so I could experiment and see if I could sew worth a lick. She gave it to me, and I've had a great time seeing what I could make. I think she enjoyed the fruits of my labor even more than I did. I made her a little Raggedy Ann doll and a pillow with the words to a song she used to sing a lot stitched on it.
About 6 months ago, she moved to an independent living apartment closer to my mom. I saw her more often as she was a little closer to me as well. Before Christmas, I went to help Mom decorate her tree. We picked Grandmother up and she was able to sit and visit while we worked. We all got a kick out of that visit I think.
A month or two ago I went to visit her, realizing that she and I hadn't had a "just us" visit since she moved. We spent the morning together having a great time.
I didn't realize at the time that we were experiencing some "lasts." Grandmother's last Christmas. Last birthday (89!). Last visit. Last phone call. While David and I were on vacation, she fell in her apartment. No broken bones, but dislocated her shoulder. She left the hospital and moved to the nursing home after a few days. As soon as I could once we got home, I went down to see her. She was happy to see me and asked about our trip. The next day, she became less and less responsive. In the days to follow, she was alive, but my Friend Grandmother was already gone. She passed away with family at her side.
I miss her lots, but mostly I am thankful for the nearly 40 years I had with her.
This is one of my favorite pictures of Grandmother, Mom, and me, and how I picture her now when I think of her.