I have no living Grandparents.
For many, this is a common thing, especially the older we get. But for me, I have had no living Grandparents since I was 18.
My Grandmother, Lillian, was my Father’s Mother. I remember doing puzzles, the smell of her house, trying on makeup and her recent response, acting out the entire musical version of The Sound of Music in her living room, and Thanksgiving’s at the kids table in her large living room.
My Grandfather, Thomas, was my Mother’s Father. I remember swimming in his above ground pool, going on hikes and him teaching me about the paths deer would take, watching Disney movies on his 13″ living room TV, eating off brand Oreos in his kitchen, and catching Fireflies in his front yard.
Because the Grandparents were on different sides of the family, I don’t recall any occasion where the two were together. Christmas Eve was always spent at my Grandfather’s with my Mother’s side of the family, and Christmas Day spent at my Grandmother’s with my Father’s side of the family. Family reunions were far and few between.
I was very, very close with my Grandmother, and although I wasn’t as close with my Grandfather, I spent a decent amount of time with him. I cherished every second I spent with both of them, as they revealed a history I was unaware of.
The last time I saw my Grandmother healthy was at my High School Graduation. She and I took a picture together in her front yard, as she worked incredibly hard on her garden and wanted it to be included. It’s the last picture I ever took with her.
The last time I saw my Grandfather healthy was even before that, as they had found cancer in his jaw months before and he had been undergoing treatments.
When I left for my freshmen year of college, I felt confident with the state of my Grandparents. I was naive and expected them to be around for much longer.
November 2007, I received the call from my father. “You need to start heading home. It’s time”.
My Grandmother passed away the next day from a short illness – Liver Cancer that had gone undiagnosed.
March 2008, I pulled into my driveway after driving home from school for a short weekend break, come to find out my Grandfather has suffered a heart attack earlier that day and had passed.
The only two Grandparents I had ever known had both passed away.
I felt like an orphan. I had friends who had all 4 grandparents still living, some even with 8 Grandparents. Saying I was jealous of them is an understatement.
My family, to this day, has never felt completely whole since. You never realize how much someone means to you until their gone.
Just last year, I was packing away my childhood bedroom, preparing for my move to New York City. I had found a box of old photographs my parents had stored in my closet and started going through them. I didn’t have time to catch my breath when this picture found it’s way into my hands:
This is the only picture I have ever seen that both Grandparents are in. I have no memory of them ever being together in my lifetime. But this picture means SO much more to me than any of the pictures I have of them separate. This was the foundation of my family during my childhood, and it’s been on my desk so I can have a daily reminder of the reason why I am trying to make my dreams come true.