From as early as I can remember, I’ve always thought of Grandma has always been one of my best friends. Some of the very earliest memories in my life are with her – staying with her when my little brother was born, stubbing my toe and having her put a piece of ice in a paper towel to make it better, all of our visits on the ranch – marking each year of our lives by those visits and waiting for them all year long. Then of course her and Da’s visits to Idaho – waiting for them , coming home from school and seeing the car in the driveway and running in to them sitting there… and then taking the pillows that she slept on after she left and keeping them because they smelled like her perfume.
Growing up, she was always the first one to call on our birthdays, and I was often woken up by my mom saying that Grandma was on the phone. The sound of her voice is one of the things I associate most with being loved.
But my very favorite memory with Grandma was actually one of my most recent. After Da passed away, I spent two weeks with Grandma, just the two of us. It was both a hard and a beautiful time. We cried a lot and laughed a lot, packed a lot and napped a lot. We reminisced and told stories - I heard many I had never heard before, and got to tell her about my work and life. We left the ranch together, found her new house in Idaho together, and imagined what the next chapter of life would be like. It was one of the most special times I can ever remember. I was so honored to spend that time with my grandma.
In general, Grandma has been a living testament of unconditional love in my life. She and I don’t always agree on things, and have had our fair share of decent debates through the years. But one thing I have always, always known, through every single stage of my life and every decision I have made, is that my Grandma loves me more than I will ever know. That is a source of strength and stability in my life that has allowed me to have the courage to be who I am and do what I do. I wouldn’t be the same person without her.