I always called her Grandma Graham. I never knew until I was older that I was calling her by her last name. To me when I said her name it was as if I was saying some of the most loving words I could ever imagine. She was my Great Grandmother. I never knew that either until I was older. It never occurred to me that she was anything but someone who truly loved me to the moon and back...unconditionally. She was my 'Grossmutter' and that was enough.
I grew up in a single parent home. It was me, my mom and my sister. Back in that time there were not many divorced families and resources were not as available to low income, single parent households. So we relied on my mom's family; especially Grandma Graham.
Grandma Graham was a strong, determined and stubborn women. She never seemed to age, although she died just before her 101st birthday. She was a widow at an early age and had already raised three children of her own. For her job, she was a live in house keeper. But that was just the title. Sort of like how we called her Grandma Graham...she was way more than a house keeper and way more than a great grandmother. She was love.
Anyone she took care of was a priority. She was there for me and my sister when our mom could not be. She taught us how to sew cross stitch, fry hamburgers in butter (yummy), fold bed sheets, towels and tablecloths. She played Chinese Checkers and Kings in the Corner card game with my sister and I for hours on end. I can still feel the board we played on if I close my eyes. She held our hands, our heads and our hearts. She made being with her seem like the most important thing in the world. She was beautiful inside and out.
As she aged her hands were one of the only places that gave her away. They were wrinkled and worn, with nails broken and torn. She would place her hands in mine to give prayers of thanks and to bring peace when I was strained. Her hands were like looking at a road map filled with roads and marks made by the blue thin veins and brown aging spots. Her hands were the giveaway of how tired she was, but still had more to give. And she did.
She gave to me peace, comfort and a place of refuge. I learned so much by watching her. She was kind, but firm. She was non-judging, but had her beliefs. She was tired from a life long lived, but she continued on...until she could no more.
As we celebrate Mother's Day I add Grandma Graham to the list to celebrate. Without her I would not have learned how important unconditional love is. While I can't always remember her voice, I can remember the feeling. And for that I will always be grateful.