On January 5th 2014 my grandmother passed away.
I remember the Christmas packages grandma would send to us when she wasn’t able to visit during the holidays. When she lived in Hawaii she sent me and my brother ornaments for the tree with our names written in Hawaiian. I remember thinking this was the coolest thing and always trying to say Kelemi in the correct accent and wondering what it was like to spend Christmas on an island.
There was another Christmas I remember when I was about 5. She had been able to come and stay with us for a few days over the holiday and a couple of nights before Christmas I had gone in to say goodnight to her when I saw a little table top hockey game sitting on the floor. I thought it was the coolest thing. The players were Disney characters and I wanted to sit down and play it right then. She saw me looking at it and when I asked who it was for she quickly told me it was for one of my older cousins. I remember leaving her room extremely jealous of my cousin and wishing it was for me. Flash ahead to Christmas morning and there I was opening the same hockey game I had seen in my grandma’s room and believing I had gotten lucky because Santa must have known I really wanted that game. I remember not putting two and two together and how she probably had just bought the one for me and just told me it was for him. It didn’t occur to me that my grandma had tricked me until I was much older. To this day I still chuckle on how naive I was about that gift and how she must have laughed knowing she tricked me.
The last time I saw my grandma was back in July. She was going up to Michigan to visit family and we were going back as well to show off my new son who was about a month old. We didn’t get to spend much time with her. Just a couple of hours one day and maybe three or four another. She was able to meet William and hold him for a bit, but it wasn’t nearly enough time for any of us.
I just have one more quick story to share. A few months ago I received a random package from my grandma. It wasn’t my birthday and it wasn’t any type of gift giving holiday. Inside was a note and a cd of Alan Jackson’s 34 number one hits. All the note said was Hi with a couple other letters. No message and no explanation of why the cd. I said something to my parents and they said she told them she remembered me saying I thought he was a good singer so she wanted to give me the cd. I thought it was nice but didn’t think anything of it and put it with the rest of my cds.
When I finally realized the significance of the gift I was sitting at her funeral listening to the person who was sharing about my grandma. What I learned was Alan Jackson was her favorite singer and she loved his voice. I realized that she had remembered I enjoyed listening to him and wanted me to have the cd because that was something we had in common. She wanted to share her joy with me so she sent me some of his music.
That small gesture is something I will always keep with me. Not finding out some of our similarities until it was too late is tough to think about now that she’s gone, but just knowing she thought about me and remembered the small details is nice. It makes me want to work hard at keeping those connections going with my son as he grows up so we don’t lose touch with what we have as a family.
William will never remember his great grandma Harbottle and will only have pictures and stories to rely on knowing who she is. I feel sad that he won’t have the chance to get to know her and watch her laugh so hard that her belly begins to shake and tears fall from her eyes because she can’t control her laughing. I will however make sure he does know who she was and know how great and loving of a person she was.