Celebrating the matriarch

A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated my grandmother’s 90th birthday.

NINETY. Ninety years old.

Ninety Christmases. Ninety New Year’s Eves. Ninety Thanksgivings. Ninety summers and winters, falls and springs. Ninety birthdays.

She was born in 1928, the same year Mickey Mouse was born, the same year the first trans-Pacific Flight was completed, the same year Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin. She lived through the Great Depression, through World War II, through Vietnam, through 14 presidents. She remembers when Kennedy was shot, when man landed on the moon.

She gave birth to seven children, four of whom were alive to attend her celebration earlier this month. She has buried three of them and a husband.

She’s fought and beaten cancer three times. THREE times. There’s a reason my daughter is named after her – she’s a fighter. This world is a hard, ugly place sometimes, and you’ve got to be a fighter. But she is so kind as well, most of the time with a smile. She is so social and loves to see new places and meet new people. I don’t think she’s ever met a stranger.

She’s fashionable. I remember being at her apartment in Little Rock one time and seeing all of her shoes. She had a pair of shoes to go with each outfit, I am sure. Even in her everyday wear, she is fancy.

My daughters love her – and it’s a good thing they’re small, because every time they see her, they are so excited, they barrel into her like wrestlers. The Artist will kindly sit and cuddle with her; even at five years old, she wants to be in someone’s lap. The Engineer comes when there’s food.

Her family gathered together to celebrate her and her amazing life she’s had and what more there is to come. There were her four children, of course, but so many grandchildren and great-grandchildren were there, too. We were all there to celebrate this one woman who has such a legacy emphasizing the importance of family.

My kids and I are so lucky to have her living so close to us. She didn’t grow up close to me, but now she lives next door to my mom. She and my aunt, who always lived either in the same house or in the same town, would come over every Christmas and spend Christmas with us. I remember one Christmas in particular when they couldn’t come because the weather was too bad. It just didn’t seem like Christmas without them there.

Happiest of birthdays to you, Granny! Celebrate your birth month all month! I am so thankful for you and the life that you have lived so far and cannot wait to celebrate more birthdays and Christmases with you! Imagine where we will be in 10 years at your 100th!

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