Saturday, September 26, 2009

Tribute to my Grandmother

Bracelet $59.oo Matching pink earrings available

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Profit from the sale of this piece goes to the

Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer Research.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so I decided to post a second pink bracelet in memory of my grandmother, Irene Marguerite Bridges who had breast cancer late in life.

Gram was quite the woman. She was not too tall, a lot less than 5', and a woman to be reckoned with. I affectionately called her a banty rooster. Don't take me wrong, she was always lady-like, but her strengths were evident. I don't ever remember her strolling. She walked with determined purpose, head held high. It seemed to me that she had something to do, even if she didn't. There was always a project in some stage of completion. Among other things, she made dolls, braided rugs, blankets, and sewed every dress she wore out of the same pattern but with different materials, buttons or lace accents.

Her cooking was simple and without fanfare, but her baking was amazing. I still have her recipes for molasses cookies, gingersnaps, and peanutbutter fudge. She once helped me win a fudge making contest by talking me through the steps. I was some proud! You could invariably count on cookies, separated by wax paper, being in her "tin". She hardly ever let the tin get empty and knew which ones were from the latest batch because the freshest ones were always saved for "the menfolk".

Over the years, there was little deviation from her routine. If I slept in their guest room, it was a given that they'd be up at the same time each morning, first reading their Bibles out loud, repeating the 23rd Psalm and praying together. Then my grandfather would hold her feet as she did a few situps. He did an impressive amount every morning himself, then they'd go downstairs to freshen up and eat breakfast. Before they ate together, my grandparents held hands, prayed over the food and ended with the Lord's Prayer. You could bank on the routine.

Gram never wore makeup, but her skin, no matter how wrinkled it became, was soft. To this day I can't smell Noxema without seeing her face. It served her well.

When my grandfather died of cancer, we were concerned because Gram had heavily relied on him. She was from a generation of women who never wrote a check, got a driver's license, or went far from home unless she sat in the passenger seat. Still, she had a strength which proved itself when she had to function alone at 80. I think she did more things for the first time AFTER my grandfather passed than she'd ever done before. She became independent, began doing things with "the Girls", took trips, and kept busy until a while before her death just before her 93rd birthday.

I remember taking her to several radiation treatments which burned her breast and caused tremendous discomfort. She was a trooper through the treatments anyway, complaining little. She fussed more about being a burden to people who drove her for radiation. All the same, it became another opportunity to declare out loud once again how much I loved her. We all need to say it often while there's still an ear to hear and a heart to receive it.

The day Gram died, two of her sons, their wives, and a few grandchildren and great grands held hands around her bed as she took her last struggling breaths. We sang, "When we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be. When we all see Jesus, we'll sing and shout the victory." It was a fitting send-off for a wonderful woman who loved her family.

I wonder if I'll smell Noxema on her face as I kiss her hello when my time comes.

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