5.16.2011

My Gran

She wasn't just "my" Gran. In fact, she had so many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and those who weren't officially either, but rather just inherited, I can't even begin to count.  But that's how our family is. Once a part of it, you're in for life.

Gran's picture could be placed next to a number of definitions in the dictionary: matriarch, mother, grandmother, friend, storyteller, comedienne.  But what she opitomizes most to me is unconditional love. Despite having had a rather large family, she had the unique talent of making each and every one of us feel like her favorite. I was actually her favorite, though. Just saying.

I was painfully shy growing up (I know, hard to believe). My typical place in residence, particularly during large family events, was on my mom's lap. I remember having a particularly shy moment when I was probably about six years old. My cousins weren't being very nice (as I was their favorite thing to pick on growing up; I now consider them as if they were my brothers). Gran pulled me aside and asked me, "Want to learn a secret handshake?" She squeezed my hand four times: "Do you love me?" And told me to squeeze back, three times: "Yes, I do." She then squeezed twice: "How much?" And told me to squeeze once, showing how much.  Then we did the reverse, so I could feel how much she loved me.  She told me to come back to her whenever I needed to know how much she loved me, as a little reminder.  This became something I did any time I was feeling down or insecure, and I could do it without anyone having to know. Later, this was passed on to my father and me, and often turned into an arm wrestling match, but it was something Gran had passed on. Emma will learn this secret handshake as soon as she is able.

That was Gran. Always finding a way to sneak in a little alone time, despite the chaos.

The last time I saw Gran was the Thanksgiving of 2009. Paul and I went to visit her at her nursing home with two of my cousins.  That weekend there was to be a mustache contest between some of the men in the family, and Paul had grown a doozy.  Despite sitting in her wheelchair with a curve in her back, Gran smiled from ear to ear every time she looked at Paul... She LOVED his mustache. All five of us giggled the entire time we were there at the ridiculousness of Paul's facial hair.  Gran told several of her famous stories we've heard a thousand times. I drank it in, knowing that it might be the last time I saw her.  Gran squeezed my hand four times before we left. I let her know how much I loved her, but it was our own little secret.

I inherited my nose from Gran. And her eyes. But most of all, I took from her an ability to tell stories, and hopefully to help others feel special in this crazy world.

Sunday morning, God took Gran to join Him in heaven. I have a feeling she's having a great 'ole time, finally seeing Grandaddy again, standing straight and tall with her beautful olive skin and almond eyes. She will be missed for a number of reasons, but all she has to do is look down and see the family that began with her.  So many of the traditions, love, and friendships that have occurred in my life are a direct result of her.

I'll miss you, Gran, and love you more than I was ever able to squeeze.

Until next time,

Mrs. Kuda

5 comments:

  1. Nice, K. Well said, Niece.

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  2. Wow!!!!!! What an awesome tribute to a wonderful grandmother from a fabulous granddaughter! Your words brought tears to my eyes, Kristin! I think you should read this at Gran's funeral! Love you, Jen

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  3. What a special post! It made me stop a minute and remember (and miss) my dear grandmother.

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  4. My dear daughter, Kristin:
    "Do you love me", "Yes I do", "How much", "squeeze" ... The last thing I "said" to Mom a week ago when we left to come home. She was, and would be now, so proud of you, and pleased as well that you can express so profoundly what she stood for. Many people have said of you, and I have agreed, how much you remind them of your Gran. Thank you for sharing with everyone what, perhaps, defines her ... and you, too. Love, Dad

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  5. I'm so sorry to hear your grandmother passed, Kristin, but am also so glad to hear about how special she was to so many! Definitely reminded me of my own grandmother. This was really a beautiful and moving post.

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