17 April 2010

Show Me the Way to Go Home

My family went to Disney Land when I was two and left me behind. I'm sure I didn't mind, as I got to stay with my Grandma and Grandpa Jackson!  Although I can't remember it, I bet my Grandpa spent a lot of time taking pictures while my Grandma entertained.  Probably one of the first times I was left alone without my parents, I have no doubt that I had a great time, because later I always loved visiting Grandma, especially all on my own. 

When I was five my mom got pregnant with my little sister Holly.  My Grandma told me that I wouldn't be her baby anymore when the new baby arrived.  The horror!  I distinctly remember the pain I felt at losing her love.  But, I also remember her then sitting on her blue velvet couch, holding me in her arms, and explaining how much she loved me and how she always would, even if I wasn't the baby.  

I couldn't have been more than eight, which means Grandma was about seventy-six, and she and I hiked to Bertha Lake in Waterton, singing "The Quarter Master's Store" and "The Happy Wanderer" the whole way.  Grandma told me that she was getting too old to hike and I remember thinking that she would never be too old to hike!

I was twelve and took the Greyhound all the way from Calgary to Fort MacLeod where Grandma picked me up and drove me to Cardston.  We stopped at the bookstore where Grandma let me buy whatever book I wanted.  Then we went to the movie store where I picked out a movie.  Out of the hundreds of books and movies I have experienced in my life, I still remember which book and which movie I chose on that occasion when it was just me and Grandma doing the picking.

Right before Grandma moved out of her house I went down to visit her and take pictures.  We spent an entire night talking about her life and experiences.  She told me the story of her and my grandpa, driving to Nevada to get married.  Hilarious!

At the cabin, every time Grandma came, I would get to sleep with her instead of with all the kids.  Inevitably, every single night I slept with her, she would fall asleep with her freezing cold feet against my legs.  

The memories go on and on and on.  As the years have passed, despite my eight year old predictions, Grandma has gotten too old to hike, and then too old to live on her own, to travel, to read, and eventually even too old to remember who her grandchildren are. But, never too old to sing: she always had a song.  My favourite: "Show Me the Way to Go Home." Over and over and over she sang it.

Tonight she finally found her way home.  At ninety-seven years old she has passed away.  The reunion that must be going on right now is surely spectacular.

Grandma was really one of the most amazing women I have ever known.  She was strong, independent, opinionated, and knew how to curse; but, she was also loving, kind and gentle.  She was a feminist before feminism. She "eloped" to Nevada to get married in the 40's. She was a world traveler, an avid reader, a nature lover.   She was an inspiration and a major reason that I am the woman I am today.   As much as I know this is a blessing, that it was time, that she needed to go, I am going to miss her so much.  I'm not sure exactly why she hung on for so long, but I'm grateful for each moment that I have had with her.  I hope she knows how wonderful I think she is, and how I am blessed for knowing her.


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