Today would be 88 – A Farewell to My Grandma

My grandmother passed away on September 17th. I am so thankful that we went and said what would be our final goodbyes a week prior. I had the wherewithal to take a million photos of us visiting with her that day and my favorite is below. It shows 4 generations of the women in my family if you include my mom and my hands. I will cherish it always.

it was decided before her death that there would be no service. In light of that, this is my homage to a strong, beautiful, stubborn and intelligent woman. Today would have been her 88th birthday so I think it is a perfect way to celebrate and grieve all at the same time. I don’t think it will really hit our family until the holidays roll around and she isn’t there with us to celebrate.

She is the first close family member in my life to die, so grief from a death is new to me. This death makes me think of my parents’ mortality and even worse, my own. Growing old is the pits and seeing your loved ones that were once full of life become a shell of their former self is down right shitty.

I saw her urn today when I was visiting with my grandpa and I have to say it hasbher name written all over it! Blue always looked beautiful on her and she had the most piercing blue eyes I have ever seen. It’s very elegant like she was and it will serve as a fine resting place for her remains.

Maureen Gloria Forde was a first generation American and the daughter of Irish immigrants. Her father left my great grandma, great uncle and her when they were very young and was never to be heard from again. Aside from that, I really know very little about her childhood because she never talked about it. Her mother, my Grammy, was tough as nails (pictured below with my grandma when she was a toddler), but still warm in the way a grandma or great grandma should be. Those traits were most certainly passed to my grandma.

My grandparents met at work. My grandpa was an FBI agent and my grandma was a secretary in his office. Pretty cute right?! They were married for almost 70 years and had 3 kids, my mom being their oldest. My grandma went back to school after her children were grown and became a therapist. She had her own practice in downtown Santa Barbara for decades before she moved it into her home. When she started losing her hearing and the dementia started kicking in, she finally closed up shop for good a handful of years ago. She truly helped those that needed it and even took patients who could not afford it pro bono.

She was an unwavering fan of the underdog. She favored those that she thought needed it most and not necessarily the ones that were deserving. She was a classic enabler to those she loved most, despite the fact that a person with her professional background would know that doesn’t do anyone any long term favors. This makes me sound like an asshole, but hear me out. Of her four grandchildren I was never the underdog. She always supported and bailed her other grandchildren out of whatever they got into. I always did things in life by the book. I didn’t need her support or for her to ever bail me out, but I certainly wanted her favor. I know she loved me and she told me all the time that she was proud of me. Perhaps it’s the only child in me that was longing to be the favorite, especially when I felt deserving of this title. Now looking back that seems ridiculous, but I honestly resented her for it for years. I’m sure that what I saw as a flaw many others may see as compassion.

In her last few years of life she was not the kind and vibrant woman I grew up knowing. She had con-genitive heart failure, dementia, a bad hip and a slew of other health issues. She started with a walker, moved to a wheelchair and towards the end was stuck in a hospital bed in their living room unable to perform pretty much any function on her own. The worse her health became, the more the grandma I knew slipped away. But honestly, who can blame her for that? There were periods of time where I wouldn’t visit as much as I should have because it was hard for me. So hard that when I did go, I would often leave in tears or sick to my stomach to see her in the state she was in. I was selfish to think that way, but that is something I’ll have to live with.

After my daughter was born, a warmth reappeared in my Grandma that I hadn’t seen in a while. I am eternally grateful that they met and had almost a year to know each other before her passing. Apparently Paige is ALL she talked about all day long. And because of the dementia she repeated herself about a million times a day! My mom had some photos of Paige printed out and I had a few hard cover photo books made and they were plastered all over the upstairs of their home. I would try to bring her around as often as possible and the last few months of her life I tried extra hard to be there often.

I want to say a heartfelt thank you to a woman who during my childhood was at every dance recital, softball game, graduation, awards ceremony and big event in my life. She spoiled me rotten and when I would tell her it was too much she would say, “I went to college to make $100 an hour, I’ll buy you whatever the heck I want!” She truly was the best grandma a girl could hope for and I know I’m lucky to have had the relationship we did. I also want to apologize to her for being distant the last handful of years. I hope she knows I still loved her the same even though I was not around as much.

I have a lot favorite memories with her, but two stick out. One is definitely shopping with her. My grandma knew how to dress and she really knew how to shop. She always had nice things, but never paid full price for any of it. For 10 years I had an outside sales job with a territory that covered Santa Barbara. I had to drive by their house to get there so a few times a week I would grab my lunch and eat it at their house. The highlight of my weeks were chatting with her and my grandpa. Their home sits on 11 acres overlooking the ocean and even though I’ve been to 30 countries, it is my favorite place in the world. All of my best childhood holiday memories are wrapped up in that house with that incredible view.

I know she is probably watching Fox News or the Golf Channel right now. Maybe even shopping at heaven’s equivalent of Nordstrom? Wherever she is, I’d bet a hundred bucks she’s drinking a bottled Frappuccino and eating a Klondike bar. I hope she is hanging out with her Mom, brother and maybe even her long lost Dad. I ask that she look down on and visit grandpa often. He seems to be doing well, but after 70 years of marriage I am sure there isn’t a second that goes by that he doesn’t miss her.

I will forever remember her how she looked at my wedding. So vibrant in that beautiful blue and white floral dress. Dancing her heart out with her children and grandchildren without a care in the world. May you Rest In Peace grandma. I love you forever.

Your loving granddaughter,

Heather

2 thoughts on “Today would be 88 – A Farewell to My Grandma

  1. Beautiful Heather! Out of all the pictures, the one with your Grandma, Grandpa and Paige. All smiling! It’s one Miss Paige can look back on with smiles! Love you all, Adrienne

    Liked by 1 person

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