Andrew's great-grandmom Wilson died today. She had a severe stroke on February 2nd and never really woke up from it. She was 93 years old and lived on her own until the day of the stroke.
I'm not going to lie....my grandmother was not always sweetness and light. I don't know why she said and did some of the things she did. I do know though that my mom worked very hard to make sure that her children had a good relationship with all their grandparents. My memories of my grandmother while I was growing up were wonderful ones.
She and my grandfather loved to travel. She has been to every state in the US, lived in three countries and visited many more. They drove everywhere they could---most of the time with a small, grey poodle sitting between them on a towel on the console.
She baked wonderful birthday cakes. I have no memory of how they tasted--only how they looked. I especially remember a Cinderella cake that she made and the Barbies with skirts made of cake and icing.
She almost always had a crochet needle in her hand and made the most beautiful afghans. We all have one that was made by her. She could also knit. My favorite thing that she ever knitted was a red poncho that I loved.
My grandmother's maiden name was Smith and the Smith girls were well known for their love of anything sweet---especially candy and ice cream--and their ability to giggle. My grandmother's freezer always contained three things...batteries, important papers and enough candy to shut down Willy Wonka's factory. Even diabetes did not stop her sweet tooth.
Helen May Wilson (or Hel-May to friends and family) had an opinion about everything and had no problem telling them to you. She also always had a gift in her hand when she saw you.
Grandmom paid for my first airplane flight and met me on the other end of it ready to treat me to a fun-filled week in Florida. We went to Disney, Annie (the movie) and every senior citizen buffet in the Port Richey area. She took me to swim in my Aunt Hattie's pool while the women did water aerobics in their flowered hats---then we ate ice cream sundaes.
My grandparents lived in NJ until I was 10. We used to go spend the weekends with them and I have wonderful memories of being there. My grandfather would take me out on his boat to 'fish'. He fished....I made him row to the lilypads so I could pick the flowers. Grandmom taught me how to decorate cakes and to knit (I'm still horrible at that one). It seemed like she was always in the kitchen when I was there. I'm not sure what she was doing (although it does take a long time to cook meat to the point when she considered it done) but I always thought her kitchen was so interesting because it had carpet.
Grandmom Wilson lived a very long, full life. She mostly lived on her terms and died still being independent. I will forever cherish my childhood memories of her.
My grandmother...holding my mom.