I'm hoping this post will be cathartic and bring my aching heart some peace tonight...
Today I was in my bathroom finishing up my makeup, so we could go Thanksgiving shopping, when Hadley brought in a notebook and asked if she could color in it, she had gotten it out of a bag of magazines that mom had brought over last week. I told her that I wasn't sure because I hadn't really had a chance to go through them and I didn't know what they were. Hadley agreed and left the notebook with me so I opened up and started looking through it. What I saw, knocked the wind out of me...The notebook was full of notes, and reminders, and menu planning, and Rook scores.
Grandma Ruth died in June of 2000, just six months after I'd moved to Louisiana. This was her tablet that held all of the planning she'd done for the holiday season prior to that. It was our last perfect Christmas as the "Shrull Family." There was a menu for Thanksgiving that included all the regulars and delicious treats that only grandma could make. There was a menu for my birthday that is just a few days after Thanksgiving.
This birthday menu is one of my favorites because she made poppy seed chicken, macaroni and cheese, homemade rolls, and pumpkin pie. Keith and I weren't married yet, we were both living with friends, and we were broke so Grandma made me SIX pumpkin pies for my birthday because they were my favorite, except-they weren't (and aren't, I still can't stand them!) I think they are Nick's favorite (who's birthday is a few weeks before mine) and better yet, for this particular birthday Grandma forgot to put sugar in the pies! I have never eaten so much whipped cream in my life! I didn't want to hurt her feelings and neither did Keith, so we ate multiple pieces (each) and slathered whip cream on them to make them go down smoother!
There were menus for Christmas and Christmas gift lists of what she'd bought already and what she wanted to get everyone. There were several pages of rook scores for her and Grandaddy and Geraldine and Berman, they must have played a lot of rook in 1999!
Then, my favorite was all the notes that were in there. Grandma used to leave a not on the kitchen table telling whoever came in, where she was and when she'd be back. Her front door (all of them actually) was always unlocked and family and friends were welcomed to come right in. I love this memory of grandma! So, as I flipped through the note, I saw a note that Grandma had left "We took Michael to Sebree, will be back in time it takes to get there and back." Following that note was one from Geraldine saying she'd been by and sorry she missed Grandma. There was a note from Cassidy and Keri saying they'd stopped by and "stolen" chocolate cake. And the notes go on, and so do my memories. I used to love to add notes to Grandma's table and I always knew where to look for her note and so did everyone else.
I want, so much, to have that type of relationship with my family and friends. I crave having people "drop in" for coffee, or lunch, or even dinner. Entire families would drop into Grandma's house for dinner and she'd never bat an eye! She'd just throw more food on (if necessary) and welcome them with open arms. I don't even remember ever hearing Grandmas say "oh, the house is a mess..." she accepted everyone for who they were and she accepted herself the same. I have often said that Grandma is the one person who ever loved me unconditionally, but it wasn't just me. Grandma loved everyone wide open, full force, unconditionally.
Tonight, I miss her so much my heart is hurting. I don't know how it's possible to be this overwhelmed with the pain of loss ten years after we lost her, but I am. When Grandma died, I didn't just lose her, I lost that connection to so many people who loved her and so many of us who were held together by her and didn't realize it. Cassidy once said that Grandma was the glue that held our family together and she was, but she was so much more than that. She was the glue that held our family, friends, and even some lives together. I wish she was here now so she could see the life Keith and I have finally made for ourselves. I wish she could meet Hadley Ruth and Lydia, she'd love them so much. I wish she could meet my cousin's children and my niece and nephew. I think she'd be so proud of all of us and I wish she could be here for it. She always had faith in us, I wish she could see she was right! We didn't let her down.
As much as I love having Thanksgiving at our house and I always say we bought this big house to fill it full of family and friends and love I'd trade it all for one good ole fashioned holiday at Grandmas. Her holidays were filled with awesome food, amazing love, great times, family, friends, and the occasional rif raf or straggler and unforgettable memories. I pray that I can have that wonderful Christian open door policy in my home and that my friends and always feel welcomed and invited into my home and into my life. Thank God for the years I had with Grandma and all the wonderful things she taught me in those years.