One of the best things about marrying Bryan was that I had a grandma again. She lived in Las Vegas when we got married and moved closer to us about six years ago. We have loved having her here and I feel so lucky to have watched as she and Evan fell head-over-heels in love with each other. The two of them developed a special little bond that I hope will last forever. After all, Granny was the one who gave Evan his special little Taggie Bear that he clings to each night.
Evan’s favorite thing to do was to take Granny donuts. Yesterday when I told him Granny was sick, he said, “I know what will make her feel better! Let’s you, me, dad and Madelyn take her donuts.”
It’s what we’ve always done, but I explained that she might be going to Heaven this time and we might not get to see her again. His face got very still and he said, “But I want to take her her favorite donut before she goes to Heaven.”
He didn’t get to. Granny left us this morning. I know she was ready to go. Just a few weeks ago I asked her how she was feeling and she said, “Mindy, I’m afraid I’m going to live to be 100.” I told her I wanted her to, and I meant it. I loved my visits with Granny. We’d share recipes and books and she always smiled when she saw my kids. She was a kick to be around.
She ended each day with a Manhattan—a cocktail made with nothing more than whiskey, vermouth and bitters. Granny preferred Jack Daniels to Jim Beam. One time, Bryan and I went to dinner with Granny and we decided we’d each have a Manhattan along with her. I had no idea what was even in a Manhattan, but if Granny liked it, I figured I could handle it, too. Bryan and I couldn’t stomach them and Granny ended up finishing all three.
I always loved visiting Granny when she lived in Las Vegas. Bryan and I would pick her up her favorite coconut cake from Jerry’s Nugget and play Bingo with her at the Station Casinos. She was a regular there. The valets knew her name and the waitresses knew her drink.
Granny was a machine in the casino. She had five Bingo cards to my two and could still have all of her cards stamped and lean over to help me before the next number was called. I think I was a sweaty mess from the stress of it all by the time we made our way to the slots. She was just as skilled there. At one point, I won. Granny leaned over and did the math before the slot machine finished ringing up my numbers. She was dead on.
Shortly after Granny moved to Maryland, Bryan and I saw a news report about the Station Casinos’ stock price dropping. Ever the accountant, Bryan created an Excel spreadsheet that showed the direct correlation between Granny’s move and the decreasing profits at the casino. I think Vegas missed her as much as she missed Vegas.
Fortunately for us, she moved here right before we started our family and got to be among the first people to hold both of my kids when they were born.
When Evan was a toddler, we started each visit at Granny’s house by moving her red candy dishes off of her coffee table. Then, as Evan grew, he would move the candy dishes all on his own. When Madelyn started toddling around, she would take the wrapped candy out of each dish and deliver them one at a time to Granny. She would then retrieve them all and place them back in the dish one by one.
Granny has been a part of every birthday and holiday my kids have ever known.
They got to color Easter eggs with her and show off their Halloween costumes.
They picked out Christmas and birthday gifts for her and loved going out to eat. In the summer, we’d stop at Jimmy Cone for ice cream after our meal. Everyone went home sticky.
It was Granny who slipped Evan his first bites of ice cream when he was just a baby. I think that is when they became true partners in crime.
Last night, Bryan and I visited Granny in the hospital. She didn’t open her eyes, but we held her hand and cried by her bed. I thanked her for loving my kids. Because really, that is the best gift you can ever give a mother—to love her kids.
As we left the hospital last night, I held my husband’s hand and told him how lucky he is to have gotten to have Granny for so long. But that doesn’t make it hurt any less. In fact, it may even make it worse, especially as we try to explain things to Evan and mourn Granny’s loss. But I am oh-so grateful I got to have a grandma again despite the pain that comes from having to say goodbye. She was an awesome lady and I know Bernie is happy to have her with him again.