My Grandmother Mimi died late last night. Hardly any of you knew her. But she was one of the single greatest influences on my life.
Whenever you hear someone says "my grandmother/grandfather just died" my tendency is to react to them as if they just said "my bunny just died." In a that's sweet but we all knew that was going to happen-way. Until it happens to you.
Then, it feels as if a light has gone out of your life.
Mimi was the kind of person who believed I could do anything I ever wanted to do. I think this is because Mimi did nearly everything she wanted to do. She was a became pilot at the age of 16. She flew planes during WWII WITH my grandfather who was Navy Pilot. Her curiosity knew no bounds and she explored it with fervor.
This made their home a place of vast imagination and exploration for me as a child. It always felt like Narnia when we would drive down their long spanish moss and oak covered driveway.
We would play a game where would try to navigate through their kitchen without letting our feet touch the floor. Which Mimi encouraged. Children sitting on top of her refrigerator was common.
We would stay at their home whenever we moved or were home for a season and I know that Mimi got more done before 8am than I will ever get done in a single day of my life. I can still hear her whistling "Onward Christian Soldiers" as she washed the pounds of blueberries she had picked all morning while I slept.
When I was in the fifth grade, Mimi and Bob flew to Korea, where we lived. They stayed for an extended visit since it was such a long trip. When they left, I returned to school and I was sitting in my classroom and I swear, I heard her voice. Mimi had a very distinctive voice due to a loss of part of her vocal cord. I heard her voice calling to me. I ran out of my classroom to go find her. I didn't ask my teacher or anything. I just ran. But she wasn't there. I just wanted her to be there so badly.
We didn't live near grandparents any part of my life and when we had Mimi and Bob nearby, I felt like a million dollars. I think because they made me think I could be a sky writer if I wanted to.
I know I'm not unusual in this feeling. Mimi made everyone in our family feel as though they were her favorites. But is am sure of this. I was her favorite. :) She told me I was just like her. I had a widows peak just like her. I had the same sense of adventure. And I always wanted to laugh and enjoy life like her.
Now, I simply want to love like she did. I want to make people feel as though they are "my favorite". It is really hard to lose someone who thinks that you are obviously the president of whatever it is that you are involved in. Or that you can do no wrong-ever. That is the role of a grandparent. No one else in your life ever feels that way about you. Certainly not your spouse, siblings or parent. Only your grandmother reserves the right to see past all your flaws and thinks "Owner and principle in chief" is not too lofty of a goal.
I will never be that same for the influence of my grandmother Muriel Pace Newcomb. She always signed her letters "Buckets of Love" which is exactly what she poured into my life.