Sweet Grandma Jane

I love reading stories of people reminiscing over their grandparents. Our western society does not value age the way eastern society does. In the west, youth is celebrated. In the east, old age is celebrated instead. At the very least, as a society, the elderly is given respect in the east in a way not given in the west. In the west, youth is equated to vitality, and that’s valued. In the east, old age is equated with wisdom, and that’s valued. Both are important.

I love seeing my parents loving their role as grandparents to my sister’s kids. On this Valentine’s Day, that’s what I am thinking of – LOVE and all of its many forms. I can hear Nat King Cole in my head as I write this.

I randomly ran into by buddy Nick (whom I used to work with at CareerBuilder) at Pattaya in Thailand last month. This past week, it was his grandmother’s birthday. She would have been ninety. His ode to her is a loving tribute to the person she was and how she made him and those around her feel.

Today is my grandma Jane’s 90th birthday. I can’t give her the type of gift she gave me. She taught me and my brothers and my cousins how to care, why kindness is important; however, the biggest gift she gave was the feeling of being the most important person in the world. But it wasn’t just a feeling. Me and my brothers and my cousins were the most important people in the world to her. What an awesome advantage we had in life, growing up, knowing we were the most important person to someone other than our parents. I could call her any time, she’d answer the phone saying “hello” in a raspy almost annoyed ‘why is someone calling me voice’ and as soon as she’d hear it was me, it was like the Wizard of Oz going from B&W to color “Nicky!, how are you?”

In her later years she started forgetting recent events. Our last 100 or so conversations all went like this:

“Hi Grandma, I love you. How are you?”
“Oh Nicky! I’m near perfect”
Then some mundane chit chat before the inevitable “Nicky, how’s your love life?”
I’d say, “grandma, I’m too busy for one woman”. She would laugh and cough for a full 45 seconds, every time.

Then she’d say “how’s Cassandra?” Cassandra is the last girlfriend I had before grandma’s memory started to fade. I’d say “Cassandra is great. She’s going to be a brain scientist”. And grandma would say “ok, maybe she’s good enough for you” then she’d laugh for a good 15 seconds.

The doctors said grandma died because of a bad heart. But I can’t agree. Grandma had the best heart I’ll likely ever know. I hope everyone at some point can feel like the most important person in the world. It’s a tailwind that can’t be beat.

Happy birthday, grandma. We miss you everyday.

Nick added these in response to an overwhelming list of comments.

When my cousins, brothers, and me were children, grandma would take us out somewhere cool every Sunday. I’m sure it was a combination of giving our parents a weekly break and her love for having a day with us. She spent the other 6 days planning and preparing for what we’d do on that Sunday. From visiting natural spring wells, to seeing John Water’s films and Big Trouble in Little China to the Ashland Bump, she lived for us.

The last gig I played with The Temptations was at Pine Knob / DTE Energy Music Theater in late 2009. Her memory was already fading, but at the end of the gig, the first person I saw walking up to the stage was my frail strutting grandma rushing to give me a single rose. She never arrived empty handed.

Go Adventure. Go Travel. Go Live.

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