My maternal grandmother was a tiny little woman, especially standing next to my very tall grandfather. He died in 1983. Of all my four grandparents, my mom's mom was the one I was closest to.
She was always happy. I mean always. She grew up on a farm, and until the day she died she was up at 5:30 singing songs. I saw her cry after Grandpa died, and it was so disturbing to me, because it was so out of character for her in my eyes. She loved my brother and me, who were her only grandchildren. (Can you say spoiled!) Grandma loved to take us to parks when we were little. It is rumored that I have played at every park in the greater Denver area.
She was born on a farm in Colorado in 1921, and was a twin. Her parents had both immigrated to this country from Norway - separately. They didn't meet until they were here in the US, and later married. Grandma always wanted to see Norway, the land where her parents had been born. She never got the chance.
After I got married and moved to Georgia, my husband started going out to sea, and I was a newlywed, living thousands of miles from home, with my husband away. Oh yes, and I was nineteen. I kept myself busy with the boat's wives club, working part time in a video store, and going to college on base at night. Grandma did a great job looking after me in her own way. She sent me postcards while Bubblehead was gone, so I wouldn't feel so lonely. She even sent me little gifts to cheer me up.
She had sent me a little package to me shortly before Bubblehead got back from his first patrol. I don't even remember what all was in it, but there was a beautiful pen included. I had meant to call her and thank her, but I was busy with college finals, and preparing for the big homecoming.
One Sunday my mom called me, and told me that Grandma had collapsed in church that day. My uncle had been with her, and there were some wonderful people there who took care of her until they got her to the hospital. She had had a heart attack. (The same thing that killed Grandpa eleven years earlier.) Mom rushed down to Denver to be with her.
Grandma went through surgery, and was doing well. Mom kept me updated. I was so worried when I initially heard, but now that Mom was there and Grandma seemed to be doing so well, the worry faded away, and I continued plugging away at school, and enjoying having my husband home with me.
Then on Thursday I had a night class, and when I got home and walked in the door, Bubblehead had dinner almost ready. He got me and glass of wine, and told me to sit down. He sat down next to me and said "Your mom called..."
That's all he had to say. I understood. He held me while I cried, and then of course I called my mom. Not only had I just lost my grandmother, but I knew my mother had just lost her mother - a loss I still cannot fathom.
I wanted to go home for the funeral, but was in the middle of finals. Bubblehead offered to send me, but Mom told me to stay and finish my tests. Grandma would have understood. I didn't go.
Part of me regrets not going. I would have liked to be there for my mom, and my family. I would have liked the opportunity to "say goodbye". Yes, I have been to the cemetery many times, but for MY part, I think it would have been helpful. I had a hard time for a long time afterwards with the fact that she was gone.
My biggest regret, however, was not making that call. Why hadn't I called her and thanked her for the pen? Because I was so busy I couldn't take 10 minutes to call and thank her for the time and thought she put into sending me a package? I didn't even take the time to call her in the hospital. It actually never even occured to me at the time. I had planned on calling her when she got home. It never occurred to me that she wouldn't.