My grandmother, Betty, passed away 12 1/2 years ago. To say I was close to her is an understatement. She always lived very close by and never missed a thing. I called her Betty. She was a very young grandmother and she and my grandfather didn't want to be called grandparent names so I always called them Betty and Tom Ed. Growing up I didn't realize how much this would help me, but she was a single mom. She and my grandfather divorced when I was really little and her children were basically grown at that time, my aunt was only about 17, but she didn't have younger kids still left to raise. However, this was still at a time that divorced women were definitely in the minority. She never dated really or re married. She was always around my family, or with my aunt and her family, or my uncle and his family. She really kind of had it made. She was my dad's secretary until she was too ill to work. What she did for him was a huge responsibility, but she had her own hours. If the girls wanted a mall day or if it was spring and they wanted to lay out in the sun all day, she could. She would eat dinner at our house or my aunts. If someone was going on a trip, she would hop in the car or on the plane with them and go! She was involved in all of her grandchildren's lives. She went to ball games, school functions, and everything else we did to make her proud!
She was a strong lady, and one of the sweetest ladies you would ever meet at the same time. She also knew how to have fun! My dad loved to tease her. I am a lot like her in ways other than we both divorced, both had one daughter and two sons, and our kids are/were our world. She could be a little "flaky" sometimes. I can say that because sometimes flaky isn't strong enough of a word to describe me. I blame mine on being blonde, but she had beautiful dark hair. So, now I am thinking the spaciness must be hereditary.
I won't ever forget a couple of holidays at her house. She would always eat dinner at one of our houses so she didn't cook a lot. When it came time for the holidays she not only had to cook, but basically for an army! There were always about 14 of us to feed. (It would depend on my uncle's marital status at the time, which is another post all on its own! And the fact that in later years she included my grandfather and his wife. She ignored any awkwardness it would be for her. She did it for her kids so they wouldn't have to "choose.") One year, I can't remember if these were Christmas or Thanksgiving, but she knew how much my dad loves egg custard. She decided to make custard pie for dessert. My dad and my uncle (my aunt Gina's husband, Tommy------yes, I know. I have grandparents Helen and Stanley like the Ropers on "Three's Company" and an aunt and uncle, Gina and Tommy like in the Bon Jovi song"Livin' On A Prayer."-------anyway...) they both bit into a piece of the pie at the same time. They just kind of stopped chewing and looked at each other. Dad said, "I think there may be something wrong with the pie." As soon as it came out of his mouth she remembered, "Oh, no, I forgot the sugar!" Not a good thing to forget in any pie, but especially a custard pie!
Another year, she made sweet potato pies. Again, my dad and uncle got ready to eat a piece. She began cutting it and soon realized she had forgotten to take the paper off the frozen pie shell before putting in the filling. She just gave them both a "Shut up, I don't want to hear it" look! Like I said, in her defense, she didn't cook very often, and especially not for that many people at once!
She had a funny sense of humor so there were times she would give their teasing right back to them. When I was around 10, my dad, I don't remember why, but said to me jokingly, "Peel me a grape." He had been doing something outside and that really isn't his thing, so I must have owed him something. Anyway, she took me inside to the kitchen, peeled a grape, and told me to take it to him. It did shut him up........for a little bit. He loved to tease her and I am sure he got her back somehow.
I still miss her everday. There are things in all of the kids I see that remind me of her. My son, Shane, definitely has her cheekbones. She was a beautiful lady inside and out. Her family was her life and she made sure we knew it. It was a really hard from the time she got sick until we lost her. My youngest gets upset sometimes when we talk about her because he was born about 6 weeks after she passed away. Sydney and Shane were very little, but they loved her and she adored them. When Stratton gets upset that he wasn't born yet, I always tell him I believe he did meet her and she gave him the sweetest kiss before he was sent to me! I love and miss you very much, Betty! Her birthday was May 10th, so this time of year is especially hard.