Helen Thomas, known as Grandma passed last week and was laid to rest yesterday. She was 98 years old. She was hilarious and brilliant. She taught me about baking and life. She was an average raiser, a tutor to the greats, a French major who came from a very English background…sorry Cornish…and proud of it. She was married for many years to her love, Bill and mom to two amazing women who I am proud to call my closest relatives. One being my mom who took the best of her mom to be mom to us.
Grandma held me when I needed it most. She was there to run to and to hang out with. She was my confidant for most of my life. She was the very best grandma to four grandkids and so far three great grandkids.
I am away from my family, thousands of miles away. This week this has been the hardest to be away so this week has been a bit of tribute to my grandma each day.
My grandma held me when my first brother was born. I wasn’t so sure about sharing this life after already being the center for 2.5 years. So for hours and hours she held me so the story goes. I wanted her all to myself.
Every Sunday she baked for our family. There were pies and cakes and cookies each Sunday after we ate dinner together and what a treat it would be to bake with her. Many times I found myself next to her in the kitchen as she opened her flour drawer or let me stir in the sugar or butter. I knew exactly where the marshmallows were to munch on and what pop I liked best in the fridge (and even though I thought it a big secret it was known to everyone….even the candy around each corner). Her recipes epic and the best, tasty to which we can never recreate. They were just grandma’s special touch.
In the bathroom, I had my own make up drawer to dress up. These were old things of hers that I wanted all over my face. It was all my drawer so I could be more like her….next stop would be the costume jewelry on the table and the hats just so I could reach them with final touches being the heels I knew were ok to put on. She must have delighted on how much we wanted to be dressed up in with her.
How many hours did I sit across from her in the kitchen and spill everything to her? She with her coffee and I with my pop or juice? Later it would be coffee but still it would be hours of conversations…feelings, stories, loves and pains, deepest stuff in which Grandma listened and responded and perhaps add advice here and there. She knew me better than anyone for so many years. I wasn’t surprised that when I came out, it didn’t phase her. She loved me no matter what and no matter who I shared my heart with.
Her smile followed us in what we did. I knew that she was proud of us…through graduations, productions, ordination, life. She would wrap her thin arm around my waist and squeeze hard and even though I was sometimes far away, I could hear it through the phone lines.
Grandma always made time for us…when she worked, during her many things to do, while around the house and whenever we showed up. We knew her time was ours no matter what and even when we forgot to reach out we knew that when we did, she was there.
My Grandma encouraged me from a young age to pursue education. It was important to my brilliant Grandma. It was always a good idea to learn and to travel.
After her lifetime partner and husband died a few years ago, Grandma was never the same and hardly always here and present. Her timelines mixed and mingled and all existed all at once and yet every once in a while a glimmer sparked of Grandma. She knew who I was when I walked in the room and her smile broadened her face. While I am thankful for peace and light surrounding her, I miss her so much, my confidant and my biggest fan. Love you Grandma, you are missed. You were indeed the very best Grandma a girl could ever ask for. I am who I am partly because of you.