death · family · memories · relationships

A Tale of Two Junes

My Grandmother (I always called her “G’ma”) passed away last week; she went from this life to the eternal one in Heaven. Over the almost 27 years I had with her, I learned a lot. About life. About family. About picking up and starting over again.

Her first name was June; my parents named me after her, giving me the same middle name. I used to hate that name for myself, feeling like “June” just didn’t fit me. Well, over time I learned more about the greatness of the name. Not only is it the name of my birth month, but one of those popular names from the 1920s that has started to find its way back. Plus, it stems from the mythical goddess of marriage & childbirth, Juno.

But the more I learned about my Grandma, the more I appreciated the name.

She was the mother to 4 kids; 3 sons and 1 daughter. My dad was the oldest of her kids. She managed them, a husband in the Air Force (“G’pa”), kept a pristine home, and made sure everyone had hot meals. I wished that I had the chance to get to know her better on an adult level, but I can’t walk around with regrets.

Growing up, I would spend summers with her and G’pa in San Antonio. I remember riding around town in the car with her, her elbows locked as she reached for the wheel, and with her explaining to me how people didn’t know how to drive anymore. She wasn’t rude or forceful about it; just adamant.

While in San Antonio, she would take me shopping for clothes for the next school year. I was sure to ask for a tiara to go with everything because I was a princess and I knew it. She took me to Best Buy when I was 9 and bought me a portable CD player and my first CD, I Wanna be with You by Mandy Moore. Up until then, I was using cassette tapes. I actually still have some.

More than that, I enjoyed every piece of time I could have with her. As I got older, we didn’t get to see each other very much.

When I was about 14, she and G’pa moved to Las Vegas. My mom and I went to visit that Christmas. After that, we had a pretty rocky relationship. I later learned why.

When I read the book, The Five Love Languages as an adult, I learned the way I receive and feel love from others is through spending quality time with them. That’s pretty hard when you’re a couple thousand miles away. She showed love by giving gifts. Before I knew about the love languages, though, I misinterpreted the fact that she gave gifts as a way of saying that she didn’t love me and care about me.

As I jumped into adulthood, I learned more about relationships. While ours was never perfect, I learned to see the little things she would do to show love. I stopped being selfish and tried to see things from her perspective. That’s difficult for the youngest grandchild, who happens to be an only child, and is used to being doted on. But I knew that it was necessary if I ever wanted to have successful relationships.

In doing so, I learned that we have a lot of good things in common. For instance, she was a neat freak; I am sometimes, but specifically, I have an underwear drawer and sock drawer that she would be proud of (everything is rolled/folded neatly, in shoe boxes); we both had a deep enjoyment for dark chocolate and black unsweetened iced tea; we both loved the U.K. (G’pa was stationed there for a while); and we both love the film, The Sound of Music, among other classic masterpieces.

I talked to her on the phone exactly 1 week before she passed. She sounded different, but the voice I remember is not the voice on the phone that day. I’ll remember her calm, yet determined voice and peaceful demeanor.

That day she passed, my uncle had been in her hospice room, caring for her. She loved to dance (as do I). About an hour after she passed, he texted me, saying, “At about 6:20 am today (9:20 my time), June 18, your Grandpa called G’ma and asked her to go dancing. G’ma accepted and has gone to the Big Ballroom in the Sky.”

He later went on to say that she would also dance with my daddy, who went to the same Ballroom on April 9, 1992.

Everyone has their differences and while ours were the hardest to reconcile, but I appreciate the time she spent with us. I’m glad we fixed our issues before it was too late.

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