She used to cook breakfast at 5AM everyday making tortillas from scratch for my Grandpa. I can still remember the aroma coming into my room every morning. She used to sing us songs when we didn’t feel good, in fact one that I used to rock my girls to sleep with and one I sang to my dog right before he passed hoping I’d help settle his heart before he left us. She used to take me to drill team practice, bought me my first car, and scrounged whatever money she had in order to buy me the latest jeans everyone wore since we weren’t very well off. She was my grandma, yes, but she was also my mom.
My story isn’t your traditional mom and dad raising their daughter and although I never like to hurt anyone’s feelings including my own mom, it is my truth. My story. My struggle. It’s honest and a little harsh but it is mine and without telling it, I could never honor my grandmother the way she deserves to be honored.
My grandparents raised me but my mom was also in the picture. I’ve heard different stories on how this all came to be but regardless of those facts, or just plain stories, my upbringing was, well, different. The most prominent is I was nearly given away but it was my Grandmother who prevented that from happening. I understand that those were different times and there were different reasons but whatever the case, I’m here now and wouldn’t have it any other way.Don’t get me wrong, I never knew my life without my mom in it. She was always a big part of my life and still is. I just had an extra set of parents as well! As far as my dad, I didn’t meet him until I was 16. The only story I knew about him growing up, was one my grandma told me. She said he came to see me at her house when I was an infant, held me and said he’d be back. I didn’t see him again until I was 16. I remember meeting him, clear as day. He walked in the house, looked at me and asked, “are you Rita?” and I said “yes”. He said “Hi” then walked away. He died a few years ago and we never really knew each other.
My grandma and I however had a special bond. I don’t know what it was or how it came to be but it just was. I could never lie to her either. One look at me and she always just knew. I don’t think I ever did wrong in her eyes except maybe for getting pregnant with Ashley at 19. Even then she helped me by babysitting her so that I could work. She babysat everyone actually. She was the mother hen of the neighborhood.
I could go on and on about stories we shared, how she would tell me I was her 4th child when she only birthed 3, and how she told my grandpa to work harder in order to help raise a child they had no business raising at their age She literally made me the person I am today. She taught me, fought for me, and raised me.
So when I would say to people that my grandma passed away recently and they’d give me the “oh well at least it wasn’t a CLOSE relative” look. I just smile and nod, but I KNOW that wasn’t the case at all. She was such a huge part of my heart. She was closer than anyone can imagine. And while I cried happy tears that she was finally able to be reunited with my grandpa, I still miss her. I miss the woman she was and I miss the bond we shared as I grew up.
One last thing that I am honored to hold in my heart is that my grandpa came to me in a dream two days before he passed away. He was dancing on a table with my grandma and they looked young and happy. When it finally dawned on me that he should be in his hospital bed (he’d had a stroke), he looked down at me and said that it was ok because they were leaving and going home on Thursday. I began to cry asking him not to leave but he reassured me it would be all right. I got the call at 4AM on Thursday and he died an hour or so later that day. That was 5 years ago.
While my grandma died last month on a Saturday, my sister quickly brought my dream up to me on the day of her funeral. It was held on a Thursday. So be what it may, I know that message held truth and was directly from my grandpa for me. I truly am lucky and blessed and everything else you can imagine to have three people in my life who not only gave me life…but gave a wonderful one. And I will always and forever be grateful!