Grapefruit and Game Shows

June 17th, 2011

Wheel of Fortune. Call me an old lady, but I love watching the show. I can usually guess the phrases before the contestants can, but I’d never be a contestant… I can’t handle that kind of pressure! I’ve always said that if you want half an hour to pass quickly, watch that show. Seriously! Once in a while, I will grab a grapefruit and plant myself in front of the TV to watch Pat Sajak and Vanna White, with three random contestants. It’s more than a game show to me. And the grapefruit? Well, you’ll see. Family members, grab a tissue.

I have the best long-term memory of anyone you will ever meet… I remember things from when I was very, very young. My short-term memory? Ask anyone who has been close to me. I lose my keys, my glasses, my phone, my son – kidding – on a daily basis. I can’t remember what I did yesterday. But I can tell you everything about an event a decade ago. What day of the week it was, the names of the people who were present (and their siblings’ names), what happened, who said what, and how I felt… I can tell you so much about my past, especially my childhood. I had an awesome childhood, looking back at it. Now, the reason I brought up my incredible long-term memory.

I eat ketchup with my eggs. Yes, unscrambled. I have a really hard time choking down egg whites without ketchup. I absolutely love grapefruit, and I watch Wheel of Fortune. I’ve even downloaded the game on my phone. I am creative, and love to make things. I am caring. I laugh a lot, and everyone can hear my laugh. It carries. Why am I telling you these things? They are all characteristics and behaviors I saw in my grandma.

In the late fall of 1996, my grandparents visited. I ran outside with brothers and sisters to say goodbye. They were headed to Arizona, as they always did in the fall, and we wouldn’t see them until they came back again. They were in a truck, and I remember looking in through the driver’s side window at my grandma smiling and waving goodbye. I had no idea that this was the last time I would see that radiant smile. In April of 1997, before my grandparents returned to Minnesota, something happened, they weren’t sure what, and grandma was in a coma. Most, if not all, of her 6 children went down to Arizona.

I was nearly 14 at the time, and my siblings and I stayed with my other set of grandparents while my parents were gone. I never took piano lessons, but love to play around on the piano. That week, I wrote a song, made up of little parts of simple songs I had learned to play. It was dedicated to Grandma, and I’m sure if I sat down at a piano today, I could play it again. –It’s that memory, I tell ya.- My parents returned and gathered all 5 of us kids in my grandparents livingroom. Dad didn’t beat around the bush or sugar-coat anything, he told us that Grandma was gone. This is the only time I remembered seeing tears in my father’s eyes. I was old enough to understand, and partly expect, that was going to be the conclusion of what had happened. I don’t really remember the rest of that day.

That is the most difficult funeral I have ever attended. Her body wasn’t there, but there was a large picture of her at the front of the church. There were flowers everywhere, and I remember roses, I don’t remember if they were all in the same bouquet, but I do remember there being roses of different colors; one color for her children, another for her grandchildren, and still another for her great-grandchildren. My grandparents having 6 children, I have a very large extended family. But my relationship with Grandma is one that not a single person in that family, or this world can fill.

You see, when I was very young, I stayed with my grandma during the day, while my parents worked. We ate grapefruit together, we ate eggs and ketchup together, played together, and yes, you guessed it, watched Wheel of Fortune daily. Maybe that’s why I have no trouble solving puzzles. Practice makes perfect, right? But really. To this day, I cannot pick up a grapefruit, watch Wheel of Fortune, or even eat eggs, scrambled or unscrambled, without thinking of Grandma.

A common question among people is, “What is your most prized possession?” Quite honestly, mine isn’t of any earthly value at all. Probably all together, the materials are worth about $10.00. It means so much to me, because my grandma made it for me. She made these wall hangings, and gave one to me while my family visited the lake where my grandparents stayed every summer. It hangs in my kitchen, and will stay there until the day I die. I spent a lot of time at that lake… It’s where I fell in love with maple nut ice cream. -Another thing that reels memories of Grandma.- Honestly, I haven’t been back to that lake since my grandma’s been gone. I’d like to go back someday, but it would be hard.

My parents had to go away one week, and Grandma came to stay with us. I will never forget how nice it was to have her sitting down with us at the table, helping us with our homework. Not that my parents never did that, but I didn’t get a lot of that kind of time with her. I don’t need to tell you that I miss my grandma. Her smile, her laugh, her genuine care for us. It’s irreplaceable.

About once every 6 months, I will have a dream about Grandma. In each, I can see her, but cannot get to her. She never speaks, doesn’t even smile, really. One that I remember most vividly, I was going down an escalator, and she was going up the other side. There was a wide distance between the two, and they were the longest (tallest?) escalators I have ever seen. The whole time, I watched her. I didn’t say a word. Neither did she. Our eyes were just locked, the whole time, until suddenly, she was gone. That happens every time. She just disappears.

I still have the rest of my grandparents. I even have a great-grandma who is still alive. And I adore time with her and my other set of grandparents just as much as the one I lost. Sometime I will tell you about them. They have an incredible story, all their own. But for now, I will wrap up with this thought- You never know when someone special will be gone, cherish them and the time you have with them.

Love you, Grandma. See you again one day in heaven. I can’t wait.♥


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