7 years without my Mimi and I sit here trying to find the words to say. Facebook is often riddled with pictures of late grandparents, and sometimes I find it difficult to grasp the significance of them all. All express the same sentiment: I miss you. But yet with each loving statement are stories upon stories of all the times spent with a person that made life that much better.
Mimi was very tidy – I don’t recall a time her house was ever a mess. One of my favorite parts of going to Mimi’s house was grabbing the jungle themed box filled with paper and colored pencils and coloring my heart out at the kitchen table. But I wouldn’t dare leave anything out when I was finished – not at Mimi’s house! My cousin once played a little game with her to see how well she cleaned. He told her he hid something in her house, and if she really cleaned well, she’d find it. It took us several hours to discover the dollar bill tucked in between two boards in the corner of the stairwell. Mimi got such a kick out of that.
Mimi had Parkinson’s. I remember exactly how she used to lick her lips – her tongue would quiver, and it always puzzled me. And when we would ask for water, she would insist on pouring it for us from her big pitcher, but into a tiiiiiny glass. Her hands would shake and nearly miss the cup, and when we would quickly down the glass of water, we’d ask for more upon which she would again happily attempt to fill it for us.
Mimi would tell us stories. One day she showed us a deer antler she had proudly displayed by her fireplace. She told us she walked right up to that deer and yanked the antler off its head. “You didn’t do that!” “Of course I did! Just walked right up to it and pulled it off!”
Mimi loved Reese’s. I don’t remember a time she didn’t have them when we came over, and there was hardly ever a time you wouldn’t catch her eating one either. To say she loved them is almost an understatement.
Mimi loved Grandma’s Kitchen, a little podunky restaurant a couple miles away that used lard in their pancakes. One of my favorite memories of that place is the time we walked out of there and Mimi handed me the change.
Mimi took us to Farmer’s Inn, a little petting zoo with a restaurant, candy store, and penny pressing machine out front that never failed to excite us. Coming up to the turkey pen was the best part ‘cause Mimi would gobble and the turkeys would gobble back. I still remember the smile we put on her face when we would giggle and laugh as we watched her do it.
Mimi was Yugoslavian. Sometimes she would mutter words I didn’t understand when I was young. Every time we stepped off the porch to head home she would say “Laku noć!” Not only that, but she would call us silly names when we came over, too, like Betsy or Sally. It always made us laugh (Mimi was good at that!).
Mimi had cancer before I was born, and beat it.
Most of all, Mimi loved her grandchildren. My mom recalls the time while her and my dad were dating that she brought over my sister, Jaime (around 2 or 3 at the time), to my Mimi and Poppop’s. Mimi got down on the ground and played with her for a long time, overjoyed by the prospect of having a grandchild. Mom and Dad got married shortly after that, and between my parents and aunts and uncles, 8 grandchildren later and Mimi was never happier.
The table I colored at is now in use at my parents’ home.
I don’t think I ever poured my own glass of water until she wasn’t there to do it for me.
The antler now sits on display in my parents’ dining room.
I still think of her every time I eat a Reese’s Cup.
The restaurant at Farmer’s Inn burned down a couple months ago, and they are just beginning to rebuild it.
We still go to Grandma’s Kitchen every time we visit the house.
The cancer came back in her hip and she couldn’t fight it.
Her grandchildren will never, ever forget the legacy she left for them.
I wish I would have been able to see her at my high school graduation, or sitting in her seat at my wedding, or holding her great granddaughter Lily for the first time. If only tomorrow was guaranteed, but it isn’t. And 7 years ago today, my life changed. But my life is better having known and loved my Mimi, and I’ll forever cherish every wonderful moment I had with my incredible grandmother.