Column 1 – Part 1

If you are reading this page, then email my mom. She said, (now picture your mother, I think most everyone has a mother…I hope.) “Who wants to read your opinion? Oh, yeah, give me a break.” That’s right, who does? Do I care, Nope, and …double nope. But I want to say some things before my “big day”.

Welcome to the first installment of what I am going to call “Dipping a toe in my mouth” as seems to be my everyday life. This column will be bi-weekly being posted every Saturday with my thoughts on life during the week.

Warning: If you are a family member of mine and you are reading this, do so with caution. I poke fun in my dialogue, but you should all know that I love you very much and wouldn’t say anything to intentionally hurt you. All in the name of storytelling.

My Grandparents and my wedding

I had many thoughts come late high school, and even early college, about marriage. The thoughts weren’t about anyone in particular, just about what it would be like.

Now, this might seem really morbid, but I wondered which of my grandparents would make it to my wedding. At the time I thought, well, if I went by age, my grandma on my dad’s side would be at the largest risk, but she was really resilient throughout life. (I never did figure that out, once you give birth to my dad, that would be enough for me, seriously.) But not to stray too much, I also thought, “Well my mom’s parents are not even in their late sixties yet, so they are sitting real good.” I really wanted them both to be there. My Grandpa in particular because he was a such a big influence on my life as I was growing up. He made it a point to be involved in everything I did, and spoil me at every turn, with just a dash of reprimand. So, I not only loved him but respected him as well.

The Grandparents 50th

It was the summer of my grandparent’s 50th anniversary, and the family got together in Grand Haven to celebrate. The Ray family was always really close in age, and I always loved that about us. There weren’t any extreme age gaps, and it seemed like the stereotypical ages for the right titles, sixty-six year old grandfather, thirty three year old aunt, mid forty year old parents, etc, etc. We had had some activities earlier in the day and then we met for a nice dinner right on the lake at Bil Mar.

The interaction was typical. My mother had three sisters, my poor poor Grandpa. Janet, Pat, and Linda, no particular order. The family was like a interactive story and the sisters each had a part. Janet would tell it, provide the sound effects and any necessary visual effects. Pat would reign the story in, always throwing in an “Oh my Gosh” and making that noise with her mouth. You know the one. That “tsk” noise that sounds like a backwards tongue thwap that is more of a personal guilt reliever when you find something funny, but you really shouldn’t. Example, My little cousin says, “Why does grandma smell like old cheese?” and you think, that is just too darn cute to not snicker, but I don’t want to encourage the little bugger. Anyway, then my Aunt Linda is there on the sidelines looking for a pause in the story to organize a game of “family” volleyball. I don’t think she’s ever played volleyball, but we don’t know that until ten minutes into the game. So, never a dull moment. Add my Grandparents, who were always a little blunt, and I spent most of the time listening and concentrating on not blowing soggy bits of green beans out my nose.

We had dinner, we had wine, we had conversation, and the family was together, for this special occasion as the sun set apricot on our happiness. Mmmm, apricots.

The collective present from the family was a years worth of work in a mammoth book. It was a creative memories book with photos from all of my grandparents old friends, signed with a memory of an event they had shared together. My grandma got teary eyed, and so did grandpa, which was becoming more common place for him in the past few years. I remember her telling us how beautiful it was and she had her handkerchief as she dabbed at her damp eyes. She grasped my Grandpa’s hand and I wondered why they were still standing.

As stiff and brutal as an event could be, my grandma held her strength as she delivered the news that her cancer had returned. The initial reaction was shock from all of the sisters as she went on to tell them that she had been keeping it from them for a little while as to not worry them. Then there was crying, and I kind of sat there not really knowing what to think, my first real glimpse into the end, of something mortal. My lack of emotion I attributed to the fact that I just didn’t know, I figured it would be awhile still. But at the same time, how do you know that in six months the cancer will have consumed your grandmother completely? It is almost too fast to ever believe it is real.

to Part 2…..

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