December 01, 2010

Left Behind

Her name is June. A very fitting name for her. June ushers in a season of adventure and abandonment of the mundane routine that keeps our spontaneity stifled. June is warm and echoes with the sounds of families gathering together for reunions and bare feet, happy to be free from the bondage of shoes, slapping on the pavement. All of that is her. She was adventurous, carefree, edgy, and sentimental about her family.

Today, I feel like I have been left behind as she goes on the greatest adventure of her life. I can't imagine the party that welcomed her into heaven. I am jealous of every single person there because they get to be with her....and I don't.

I must admit that I was hesitant in writing about her. Hesitant because I don't feel like my words will do her justice. Hesitant because I really wanted to write something fun in a run of serious posts. At the end of the day, I just didn't have a choice. She loved this blog. She told me she would go down to the library at the retirement home (or "institution" as she called it) where she lived and have them print out every single thing I wrote. There is nothing I could do to honor her more than to write about her here.

I don't have many memories of her from when I was younger. Our relationship is one that grew as I did. There is so much of her that is me, that I feel the pain of having a missing part. But every time my stubborness rears its ugly head or I go off on an adventure or I stand up for myself, I'll remember her.

She instilled in me a love for a good murder mystery. I remember comparing notes with her on all the Agatha Christie novels I could get my hands on. Just last Christmas I sent her the latest installment in a murder mystery series she loved. She used to love curling up in bed with a Cadbury bar and a good book. With her, I would never get into trouble when just one more chapter turned into a sunrise.

She was a big believer in skinny dipping. A fact that I loved telling all my friends while their faces reflected an odd sort of horror at the thought of an older woman skinny dipping, mixed with a healthy sense of awe at how audacious she was. The one and only time I've ever been skinny dipping is because she talked me into it....and it wasn't that long ago. I didn't love it, but I floated around in the pool in the dark of night trying to capture some of the free feelings she insisted I experience. It was an odd sort of way, but she was so proud of me! I absolutely put my foot down on doing the cannonball.

I loved that the older I got, the more open she was in the telling of her life story. She was a wild one, even by today's standards. I am still convinced there was so much more she didn't tell. Her passion was the pool and especially diving. A sport that she was considered a champion in. She was well traveled and experienced plenty of naughtiness to give her stories a good dose of spice. If there was anything she truly loved, it was a good juicy story. When she could tell one of us was winding up with a good one, she would always say "Oh, boy" and get that glimmer in her eye.

When I was getting married she bought all of my lingerie for me, and then proceeded to have some very frank conversations with me that no girl should ever have to have with her grandmother. Let's just say she was passionate about being passionate. Fifteen years into my marriage with Scot and she would still tell me every time I talked to her that we needed to go on a date and spend lots of time hugging and kissing. My sisters, who are both single, have been on the receiving end of so much dating advice that it's now a family joke. She would advise them on flirting, tell them that they needed to be a little more sexy....often all in front of my dad who would just sit there and laugh.

This past summer we had the opportunity to visit her in Palm Springs. As usual, she wanted to be in the pool anytime we were.......WITH her bathing suit on. I loved watching her walk to the water's edge in her cute one piece suit, bathing cap, goggles, and cane. The cane seemed so oddly out of place. She'd get in the water and do her infamous handstand.

She was just as quick to go down the waterslide and I honestly don't think bystanders quite knew how to take it watching a 90 year old woman laughing her way all the way down to the bottom.

She had an excitement for life. Age did not deplete that, if anything, she was frustrated at how it slowed her down. A couple of years ago I went with my sister to visit her in the retirement home. They happened to be having a happy hour and dance while we were there so we went. I have never laughed so hard or had a better time as she pointed out to us the men she thought were cute, the women she thought were catty all the while trying to find my sister and I dance partners.

She missed nothing. She was curious about the world around her. She wasn't judgemental.....every tattoo, piercing or hairstyle my brothers and sisters have had over the years she was interested in seeing. She would probably drive us to the tattoo parlor herself! Heck, she'd probably jump right into that chair so Kat Von D could ink her herself.

I love how stylish she was. Always accesorized with amazing turquoise and silver jewelry and I love that in this picture she is loving my boys and has a ribbon tied onto her ponytail.

I am going to miss her so much. Right now I can still hear her voice and visualize her facial expressions. I'm so scared of those memories fading. I'm going to miss her saying "Oh, hey" with a giggle when she's being teased or how many times she would call something or someone "lovely". I remember the way her hands looked and the way she walked. Her passion for pictures and how much she loved grapes. As funny as that sounds. I'm going to so desperately miss it all.

In a final act that can only be called brilliant, she is giving my family reason to gather together this Christmas to honor her. Our family is notorious for being spread out all over the globe, but we quickly realized that distance should not keep us from honoring her memory. It took all of one hour for us to decide that no matter what it from New Zealand and Texas, rearranged schedules.....we would be together to spread her ashes. It is exactly how she would want it to be.

Then maybe we'll do a little skinny dipping, play a little bridge, eat a little chocolate, and settle in for some juicy story telling. Her memory will live on.


  1. Oh what a wonderful post. I just know she would love this one! I have heard a couple stories, but I want to hear more!!

  2. Your words did just fine. Praying you all have traveling grace and ease. Be careful and much love.

  3. The contrast of the joy and pain is so sharp, isn't it? So glad that God is big enough to entertain her in Heaven AND console you on earth. I've no doubt she is having fun, and she eagerly awaits when her family will gather together...with her. Thanks for sharing her fun with us today, Keri.

  4. very nice, Keri. I know your grandmother loved you as everyone who meets you does. She will be in your heart always to guide and direct you in so many ways. Take care, Honey

  5. This is soooooo fabulous, Keri. What an amazing way to honor your grandma. Your words were SHEER PERFECTION. Wowza!! Love you! Praying for you as you grieve your loss!

  6. You have such a gift and way with words.. What a beautiful tribute to your grandma... :)

  7. What a beautiful tribute to your grandmother and what special memories that you have of her. What wonderful stories to pass onto your children. Praying for you and your family.

  8. I love this post!
    When my grandfather passed away I literally felt my heart breaking. He was a singer and we have lots of recordings of him singing. It has been five years and I still can't bring myself to listen to them.
    It is so special to have a loved someone so special that it hurts to loose them. That sounds crazy! But, you are a blessed woman because of her!
    May you remember her vividly until the day you get to hug her neck!



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