Last night, I found out my Grandma H. had a stroke a day or so ago. I guess she's not doing very well, because they called the immediate family in. So Mom is flying to IA even as I type. When I talked to her online last night, she seemed pretty calm about it. As she put it, it's like we already said 'good-bye' to Grandma H. a couple years ago, when we found out she had Alzheimer's after Grandpa H. died. But still...if Grandma H. dies, I'll only have Grandma O. left of all my grandparents, since Grandpa O. died when I was like 16. That's a pretty weird feeling for me. Unlike a lot of people I know (like Cowboy), until I was 16, all four of my grandparents were alive. I lived quite a way away from them, since they all lived in IA, and we moved away from there when I was 3. But I was still fairly close to my grandparents.
See, we'd spend all of the month of July living with Grandpa and Grandma H. in their little house in Hospers during the week, and then on the weekends, we'd go to Grandpa and Grandma O.'s farm. And my H. grandparents would come to visit us once or twice a year too, until I was maybe 16 or so, spending a week with us in the spring and the fall. Sometimes my O. grandparents would visit us too. All four of them came to NC for my Confirmation when I was 13. By the time I got married in 2002, Grandma O. was the only one able to make the trip.
Grandma H. taught me a lot about sewing, whupped me at Scrabble, and made the greatest Dutch Almond Bars ever. Grandpa H. took me for walks to the post office and the bank (where we got free caramels). He really loved those no-bake chocolate cookies. I learned to play pool in their basement. We'd play Rummikub together for hours. Every weeknight, we watched Joepardy! and Wheel of Fortune.
And my O. grandparents went on these amazing road trips with us. When I was 6, they and my parents and my little brother all piled into the Green Car and drove into every state west of the Mississippi River in about 10 days. We also did other trips in later years, to places like Washington, D.C., Niagara Falls, Gettysburg, and all the way along the Oregon Trail from Missouri to Oregon. Grandpa let me help him drive the combine when I was little, and Grandma would let me help feed the calves.
To top all this off, the piece I'm working on getting published with Guideposts is about the last time I spend a good chunk of life with my H. grandparents: Easter Break of 2000. Grandma H. might die before I ever get nationally published, something that would have made her so pleased and proud. And even if she's still alive in March, her Alzheimer's is too far along for her to know anyway...