Grandma Deb was never able to hold Big One or Little One. She didn't get to sing lullabies to them. She wasn't present at birthday parties. She has never told me how to raise my children. Grandma Deb passed away 8 years ago today.
I never knew my mother in law in her heyday. By the time I met her in 1997, MS had already consumed her body. Still maintaining a sharp awareness of the world, it pained her to be trapped in a body that didn't function. I saw the pain, the frustration in her eyes. I watched her freedom progressively slip away from her.
Deb didn't like me in the beginning. I suppose one day I'll understand the feeling that no woman will be good enough for my little boy. She eventually accepted me (how could she resist my charming personality?!?!). I visited her in the nursing home, knowing she was too young to be there. I sat with her in the hospital. I watched the physical and emotional pain that grasped her tightly and wouldn't loosen its hold.
I heard the phone ring in the middle of the night 8 years ago. I knew. I didn't answer the phone. It rang again. Mike's sister. Get to the hospital.
By the time we arrived at the hospital, she was gone. We stayed for a while. We went home. We didn't go back to sleep. I baked. That day was to be my last of my first rotation of student teaching. I dropped off the cookies to the kids. I honestly don't remember if I stayed. I don't think I did. I think I went home to Hubs.
Technically, he wasn't Hubs yet. Deb's funeral was Saturday, Oct. 14, 2000. Hubs and I were married one week later on October 21. October in Iowa can be hit or miss. I've seen an ice storm on Halloween as a kid. Our wedding day was beautiful. The sun beamed down on us. The temperature was perfect. Deb was with us that day.
While setting up Big One's nursery, we hung a picture of Deb. It was her senior picture. It still hangs in the nursery which is now occupied by Little One. When Big One was a few months old, I held him up and showed him his Grandma Deb. He grinned like crazy and stared at his grandma. I couldn't help but feel she was there with us.
Recently, I held Little One up to that same picture. She looked. She didn't smile the way Big One did. I kept holding her there, willing her to smile. She never did although she stared at the picture for some time.
Last night as I rocked Little One to sleep, I looked at that picture and I cried. I know Grandma Deb is still watching over our family. I wish she could have held her grandchildren in her arms. I wish Big One and Little One could know her beyond the stories and memories we share. I wish I could talk to her one more time. I wish we could have had the chance to really get to know each other. I wish my mother in law was here to offer unsolicited advice and to spoil the grandkids.
I miss you, Grandma Deb.