2009 was a bad year for the women I called Grandma. I lost Grandma-ma (mother's mom) on January 1, 2009. Grandma Dianne, my father's stepmother, passed on December 30, 2009, after a long battle with osteoporosis and COPD, at the age of 87.
Some would say she wasn't my grandmother at all, as we had no blood ties, but to me she was the only grandmother I ever knew on my dad's side. My dad's mother, Ginny (aka Munner to my siblings) died when my mother was pregnant with me, so I never met her (though I heard many wonderful stories about her).
I have many happy childhood memories of staying at Grandma Dianne's house, and walking through the woods with Grandaddy and visiting with my cousins, Leslie and Mike, that lived nearby. Grandma Dianne always had a few pesky, yet photogenic, raccoons living in the woods behind the house - we loved to watch them as children. Grandaddy passed away in 1981, but we still visited Dianne often for years to come.
After I moved away to school, I couldn't visit, but regularly exchanged lengthy letters with Grandma Dianne. She often included pictures of her dogs and shared stories of her youth, and I was always so happy to see a note from her in my dorm mail box.
As the years went by, Dianne stopped replying to my correspondence, but did tell my mother how happy she was to receive them. She was embarrassed of how much her hand writing had deteriorated, so I started calling her instead. It was always nice to talk to her, as she would reminisce about Grandaddy (Danny, to her), her sister and father, her beloved dogs: Missy, Daisy and a charcoal colored one she had as a girl, and about her travels to England as a young woman. She was always excited to hear about the shows I was in or had recently seen and all of the trips I had been taking, always asking for more pictures.
She spoke frequently of how much she loved her 6 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren, even though some of the great-grandchildren lived far away and she never got to see them in person.
This year for Christmas, my parents gave me Grandma Dianne's china. I was pretty sure this china was passed down from her English ancestors, but when I called her to thank her for them, she was already too weak to answer the phone.
I will miss my phone calls with her. To me, she was always my grandmother.