You know how when you have a baby and you are so excited the first time they do something? Like when they say their first word (which is always "dada," stupid jerk babies) or when they walk for the first time and you call everyone you know because your baby stood up, took one step and then fell and hit her head on a coffee table? Not much of an accomplishment really, but at the time it's so exciting! There are other firsts that aren't so great as well; the first time they get their heart broken, or the first time they get arrested for vandalizing a garage door with sticks of butter on homecoming weekend. (sophomores rule!)
I've been thinking about it from the other side of life lately because my grandma is dying (yeah, I know deja vu. My other grandma was dying last September.) What about people's lasts? How sad it is to think that the last steps a person takes will be their last steps? My grandma took her last steps last week right before she had a massive stroke. Now I find myself wondering what her last words were? I suppose we don't acknowledge those things because we can't look ahead and know when something will be the last. I've been wondering things like; what is the last thing my grandma ate? What was the last thing she laughed about? What was the last outfit she picked out to wear? What was the last thing she wrote? What was the last thing she read? I guess I can only look back and remember the good things and be thankful for all the time we had together.
I remember the last time she went swimming. It was at my parent's lake house and she jumped off the dock ladder into the freezing cold water. I couldn't believe she did it. She was about 85 years old. A couple years later she went to her last movie at the movie theater. She is a Harry Potter FANATIC and we took her to the one of the movies. I had already seen it and I remember sitting there with her, knowing that any second an inferius was about to jump out of the dark water and grab Harry's arm and if I didn't warn her she would jump out of her skin. Did I warn her? No way! She jumped, I laughed, she said, "JESUS!" and I laughed some more.
I LOVED to tease her. In her old age I could get her laughing hard enough to make her wet her pants. That was always fun. (Apparently, after 70 a gal's pelvic floor muscles aren't what they used to be.) There's nothing as joyful as an octogenarian who is gasping for breath because she is laughing so hard at your explanation of the book Twilight, and in between gasps is saying, "Stop it... I'm wetting myself... please... stop it!" In my defense, I still don't see what's so funny about Twilight, Grandma.
When I was a kid I would spend weeks with her and my grandpa in the summer. They lived in a huge, hundred-year-old house with high ceilings, beautiful decorative molding, and two, count 'em TWO staircases. It was a grand, unique, shabby palace and she and I both loved it. It had a wonderful smell of dust, Virginia Slims, Cinnabar, English Lavender, and Ivory soap. It was a great smell. My Grandpa took over a kitchen pantry closet and turned it into a TV room and spent many evenings in there. When Mitch and I were dating and he came over to their house one time, he pulled me aside and said, "Why do you guys keep your grandpa in that closet?" Because he liked it in there!
My grandma loved me and I knew it. She spoiled me rotten. We dressed alike, we liked the same things (Lee Press On nails, Queen Elizabeth paper dolls, and root beer floats; to name a few), and we have the same sense of humor which is why it is so easy for me to make her laugh.
I have a baby niece who is joyfully experiencing her firsts. She started laughing lately, and screaming for the sole purpose of screaming (which, if I'm being honest, I could do without). Soon she will take her first steps and say her first word (dada) and we will cheer for her and celebrate. Maybe we should celebrate lasts like we celebrate firsts. My grandma never has to lose another loved one. She never has to worry about money or kids or illness again. And most importantly, she never has to go to the dentist ever again. That's pretty sweet.
She was my first best friend. I'm going to miss her like crazy.