Top Ten: A Great Woman

You may remember a few weeks back when I mentioned that my paternal grandmother fell and broke her hip.  She’s a spunky 86-year-old who has been a matriach of the family for a very, very long time.  She birthed five children, was mom to six, joined my grandfather in the family jewelry/watch making business, is a dyed-in-the-wool Texas Democrat and drinks a can of Coors just about every day.  She’s weathered brain cancer, bladder cancer, the untimely death of her adult daughter, the passing of her husband to devastating Alzheimer’s and hot, west Texas summers in Pecos.

She’s a tough lady…even if she is only 83 pounds.

Well, the latest fall, combined with her increasing dementia, warranted a move from the only place she’s ever known, to an Amarillo nursing home.  She’s not eating, she’s tired and in tremendous pain.  We know her days are limited and she is starting to look less and less like “Granny” and more and more like a person who’s ready to head to Heaven’s gates.

As my maternal grandfather wisely says, “I’m not afraid of dying, I’m afraid of living.”

There is a part of me that wants to hop on the next plane and get to Amarillo to say my goodbye’s.  The rational part of me knows that isn’t the wisest thing to do with Luke.  And, the Granny I remember won’t be lying in that bed.  The Granny I remember brings back some great memories…and I’d be honored to share them with you.


1.  Hearing her say, “Oh, sugar, it’s so good to see you!” and then giving you a big hug.

2.  Seeing her in her chair, placed just “so” next to my grandfather’s, drinking her Coors and smoking a cigarette.  How she’s lived 86 years with those habits I have no idea 🙂

3.  Watching “Wheel of Fortune” with her.  She can solve any puzzle like a champ.  Man, if she’d ever been on that show she would’ve cleaned house.

4.  Her jewelry collection.  My family has deep roots in the jewelry business and she has some stunning pieces that my grandfather made for her.  My most treasured keepsake is a piece she gave to me when I graduated from college.  It’s a golden nugget, that was her and Grandpa’s high school rings melted down.  He gave it to her for their 25th wedding anniversary.  It’s an honor to wear it today.

5.  Making liver and onions (one of my favorites!) in her kitchen while she told us all how we were doing it wrong.

6.  Having her teach me how to wrap a package.  Jewelry stores do it best and my Granny is the master.

7.  Not heeding the advice of my Uncle Dee and asking her opinion about three taboo conversation topics:  Religion, Politics and Sex.

8.  Her fingernails.  Weird, I know.  But, my grandmother has the prettiest hands, made even more beautiful by the rings that Grandpa made her.  Those were the good ‘ol days.

9.  Going to the Pecos rodeo.  ‘Ain’t nothing better.

10.  Family reunions.  We used to have these all the time, gather in Pecos and live it up.  There were Christmases, birthdays, rodeos, 4th of July’s…and with every one I gained a greater appreciation for family.  There is something especially awesome about a big family – the lively conversations, the inside jokes, the late nights, the pure happiness in spending time with so many people that you love.

Granny, I love you.  I hate that you’re getting ready to head home.  That my dad is about to lose his last living parent.  But I know this…yours is a life well lived.  And I am grateful.


  1. Connie Mayo Hayley on January 6, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    How precious K…..tears ran down my cheeks as I read it and remembered all my GREAT childhood & adult memories of both sets of my grandparents but especially Ninnie & Daddy John….not a day goes by that I dont still miss them after 19 & 11 yrs 🙁 Hugs & your family will be in my prayers.

  2. Nicole on January 7, 2010 at 2:01 am

    K – I'm so sorry… You all have had SO much going on. What a blessing though that you have had her as part of your life for so long. My maternal grandparents (who lived across the street when I was growing up) both passed away by the time I was in the first grade. I still have great memories of them…

  3. Stephanie Ripma on January 11, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    I loved reading this post Kathryn. I lost my grandmother a couple weeks ago, and while I know she's reunited with my grandfather now and she's not suffering anymore, it still hurts.

    How lovely and fun it is though to remember the sweet sweet memories 🙂 Some of my favorites include shopping for my first day of Kindergarden outfit, playing slapjack and other card games, and more recently, our visits during lunch when I would drop off her groceries.

    I will most definitely keep your grandmother and of course your whole family in my prayers.

    I hope you and Scott are doing well. The kids are absolutely adorable, and I'm so happy reading about how much Luke is improving!


    Stephanie (Elsner) Ripma

  4. ... on January 12, 2010 at 6:15 am

    nice job sis.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.