Today is Grandma Shirley’s birthday. She has been gone for a year or so now but truth is she was absent most my life. I know by looking at pictures of what she was like as a person. She loved her dogs, gardening, and birds. She also sure loved to fish, which makes me sad that she never taught me how. Not saying I would have enjoyed it at all but it would have made some great memories. I don’t have many if any memories until after I was in my mid-twenties. The turning point came when Grandma Shirley had a stroke the year my daughter was born in 1996. After that she was around a lot more often and I came to accept that she was not the typical grandma and I took her under my wing as a friend.
She would often come to KFC in her wheelchair, right before we opened, in the middle of chaos and want her three grilled chicken legs. You knew because she would wave three fingers furiously in the air. She wasn’t very patient at times. She couldn’t talk so she only made grunting noises or used her head and fingers. I used to give her shit just as my way of connecting and boy were there a few great times I told her to quit laughing so hard cause I didn’t want her to die which made her laugh even more. She taught me all about communication and ways around the spoken word.
I didn’t really know her before when she could tell me stories and I could appreciate the values of her memories. She would come and sit for hours and stare out the window. I used to love it when she would call on the phone and I would ask her what she was wearing. She would say “No” in a low tone where I would reply, “You are naked, shame on you.” To which she would laugh whole heartedly. Sometimes she would call and I would ask her if she wanted to hear a joke. Sometimes she would be playful and sometimes just hang up. I looked forward to her visits and enjoyed making her laugh. I told her many things followed by, “I know you can’t tell anyone this”. I don’t think I would have shared such things had she been normal per say for our relationship was unique and our own.
I cry as I write this, trying to listen for footsteps of my coworkers not wanting to explain what has turned me into such a cry baby. As I was looking for pictures to show you Grandma Shirley I came across these in which I find interesting. The top left is her and Roy on their wedding day. He died before I was born in 1980 after which Grandma Shirley married Leonard, pictured in the bottom right. I believe the picture with Leonard was taking during Roy and Shirley’s wedding. Perhaps why it is crumbled up like forbidden love. Go Grandma, Go!
So today is Grandma Shirley’s birthday and I am going to visit her. This is not the first time I have visited and it certainly won’t be my last. I do admit though this is real treat because not every time do I bring beer. It’s not your birthday in heaven every year though and I don’t know if anyone else has thought to bring her a beer. She and Roy share the same headstone. No worries though because Leonard is buried just up a row. They are all down there. I will be down there sometime too. Until then though, I am going to visit them because they are not just my family but an ingress portal which I must farm keys to and make an ultimate control field in Grandma’s honor. Not just Grandma though, all those who keep her company at Sullivan.