The funeral went fairly well; family and friends went over to my brothers' place afterward, and it was nice to have everyone together. (A particular thanks goes out to LN, for the confectioneries she provided. I personally ate at least half of them, so I figured a personal thank you was appropriate.)
I've been putting this post off because I wanted time to do it full justice, but now that I'm looking at the screen in front of me, I'm not sure where to start. Essentially, I want to talk about what my grandmother meant to me. It's a daunting task.
Let's start with the bad part. I don't think I knew my grandmother that well. There's a lot of reasons for this. As readers know, I like video games, comic books, and esoteric literature. My grandmother enjoyed cooking, gardening, and was an active participant in her church. There's not a lot of overlap there. And by the time I was branching out, she had her stroke, which meant that direct conversation was more or less replaced by just being there for her. And while I wasn't there as much as I could have been, I hope that when I was there counts for something.
Most of what I do remember about my grandparents--they're together in my mind, so they're going to be together here too--comes from my childhood memories, and my memories of their home in Someplace Else. So:
I remember their backyard. I remember the biggest garden I've ever seen, and picking up rocks in their flower bed to look at the insects underneath. (This was a group sport. Find the biggest worm, and you win.)
I remember the whole family going on walks to nearby parks,and playing on the playground--which was, of course, much, much better than the playground back home.
I remember Grandpa's tandem bike--not the usual affair, but two bikes joined together, with a lawn chair or something tied to the rear end, for extra seating. This strikes me now as an elaborate accident waiting to happen, but even now, its sheer coolness must be appreciated.
I remember summer trips to the nearby campground. I've never been that fond of camping, but to this day, it's a family activity in my mind.
I remember watching my grandmother cooking--whether it was making soup, making cookies, or shelling peas. Sometimes, in the latter activity, I even helped. Not often though.
I remember my Grandpa's train set that he kept in the basement. The height of childhood responsibility was being allowed to slowly--slowly-- accelerate the train along the track without supervision.
I remember that this set was in the same room as their piano, a great big hulking thing that was perhaps the most out-of-tune instrument I've ever used. But I still had to use it; just because we were at the Grandparents' house for a weekend was not accepted as a reason to skip the piano practice.
I remember the games. Kerplunk, dominoes, and, of course, tri-ominoes, a game which I still think is nigh incomprehensible. There were numbers, and they lined up, and afterward, Grandma told you who won.
I remember the toys. These were purchased purely for the grandchildren's amusements: play phones, fisherprice barnyard figures, and others. These were toys that had to stay at the grandparents' house, which gave them a whole different value.
I remember hours spent in front of their TV. (We were lazy grandchildren.) My grandparents got channels that just weren't available in our rural home town. (We didn't get satellite at home until I moved away. I never saw an episode of Seinfeld until my last year of high school. I was deprived.)
More to the point, I remember my grandparents' video collection. Each video was watched over and over and over again. I have seen Homeward Bound more times than any other movie in my life. I'm not sure exactly what effect that has had on me, besides believing that every animal, if it could talk, would sound like Michael J. Fox.
What does my grandmother mean to me? She means the unconditional love of family. The support of someone who believes in you and your potential, even if they aren't entirely on board with semiotic analysis or algebraic semi-groups. The knowledge that home is more than a single location, that it's where you feel safe and loved.
My grandmother was a large part of my world, and she means the world to me.