|My grandma, Ruby Marcella Essenpreis|
There is a line in the song "Big Yellow Taxi" about not knowing what you've got until it's gone, but I've lost a lot of people dear to me already and with those kinds of losses you learn to appreciate what you have while you have it. I was unbelievably fortunate to have grandparents who truly loved having grandchildren. I can't think of a single time in my life when they weren't there for me when I needed them and I hope they thought the same of me.
|Thanksgiving 2009 -karaoke night with my grandparents was priceless!|
When my dad suffered a spinal cord injury in a car accident in the early 1980s when he was my age and I was Sophie's age, my grandparents didn't hesitate to whisk me away to stay with them for weeks on end or to shuffle me back and forth from their home outside St. Louis to my childhood home in Galesburg, Illinois, all so my mom could face what the situation demanded. I loved spending days at their plumbing and heating business, playing with the plumbing parts (and creating an inventory nightmare, I'm sure) or with the old-fashioned cash register or walking down the street with grandma to the German deli down the street.
As I got older, there were outings with grandma to a ladies' clothing store in St. Louis called Cunningham's, where she would buy beautiful clothes and I got in trouble for trying on the expensive hats. Every year on the day after Thanksgiving, we went on marathon shopping trips. Grandma was always so stylish and classy and she's still my inspiration for the way I dress.
|Typical goofy family photo at my baby shower in Moline|
It was really an honor for me to be with her last week when she passed. I'll never forget that I was holding her hand and talking to her about that first time she held Sophie when she finally found peace.
This week I found a card tucked away in a drawer at work that I've had for several years, a thank you she sent me for running in the Race for the Cure in her honor (she was a 20+ year breast cancer survivor) with a $5 bill tucked inside. The $5 bill is still in the card because I could never spend it. It's too precious. This was typical of her - she was always sending cards with funny little notes. This one said:
"Dear Heather,I know I will be seeing you again, Grandma, and even though my heart hurts because I miss you, I'm happy you're at peace. xxoo
Your mother told me that you ran in the Race for the Cure for me. Thank you very much. I know that you are a very busy lady. I will be seeing you maybe in December. Heather, anytime you want to come see Grandpa and Grandma we will be looking for you. Thanks again.
Love, Grandma oo and Grandpa xx"