Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Growing Up With My Grandmother

Paige McCoy, a 17-year-old high school senior from Warwick, R.I., lost her grandmother, Frances Medeiros, to Alzheimer’s disease last May. In this blog entry, Paige reflects on her relationship with her grandmother and how she continues to feel her grandmother’s presence in her life.

To me, there is no bond that is greater than the one between a grandchild and his or her grandparents. In my family, the word grandparents is an understatement; I might as well call them parents because of the love, support and encouragement that they’ve given me in the last 17 years.

My relationship with my grandmother was a very special one. There is not one day that goes by that I don’t start my day with a glass of orange juice—a habit that she started when I was seven years old. She was everything that a grandmother should be. She came to every birthday party, my first communion, the father and daughter dances, and every dance recital.  She always had to be the one to hand her grandchildren their birthday and Christmas presents. She would swipe it right from my papa’s hand and say, “Here you go, honey bun!” Nothing could beat the overall positive vibe and warm embrace that came from my grandma.

She taught me many things in life. She taught me about the importance of religion. She taught me to have class. And she also taught me little things in life, like how to fold clothes. My grandma was an educational inspiration, having been the valedictorian of the first graduating class at Salve Regina University. My mother and uncles always tell me how great she was with words, that she could define any word she was asked about with a brief definition and always carried a small dictionary with her. I still keep that tiny dictionary in my jewelry box.  

Since my grandma passed away, there has not been one night where I don’t pray to her. I tell her how my day went, about a big test I have coming up, or about how stressed out I am about work, school, and college applications. I truly believe that she can hear me. One night, about three months after she passed away, I talked to her about my papa. I told her how depressed he was, and how seeing him so sad made me want to cry. I asked her to help him feel better.

A few days later, I was sitting at the kitchen table with my papa and my mom. All of a sudden, my papa’s face lit up, and he said to my mother, “I almost forgot to tell you, I had a dream about mama two nights ago!” He explained the dream, and how beautiful he thought she looked when all of a sudden it hit me: my grandma had heard me. That was such an emotional moment. I cried tears of joy, sadness and shock. I felt like I had talked to my grandma and I would never trade that feeling for anything in this world. I didn’t tell any of my family what happened, because I wanted it to be something that stayed between my grandma and me

I refuse to say goodbye. No distance or amount of time can break the bond between a granddaughter and her grandmother. Someone who nurtured you from the start does not just “go away.” I just had to change my perspective. Instead of driving to her house, now I just put my hands together and speak—and she’s all ears.