My trip to New Jersey was not planned, it’s only intended purpose was to say good-bye to my friend. My wonderful sister drove home so she could attend the services with me and support me on the difficult day. But, at some point realized we were both in town and it was 1 week before my grandmother’s 80th birthday.
My grandmother is an amazing woman. Strong, willful, and classy. Born one of 11 children, in the backwoods of Puerto Rico, she had my father, her only child, at 21 and cared for him by herself all her life. This included moving to New York City when her son was only 4, with only a 4th grade education and not a single word of English, just trusting she’d have a better life for her son. She lived closed to me my whole life and helped raise me and my sister. She loves being a mother, grandmother, and now a great grandmother. She suffered a serious stroke two years ago, but continues to live independently, insists on always being fashionable before she goes out the door, and is known for getting in trouble for cleaning and walking around unaided because the home aid “just doesn’t do it right”.
My grandmother wanted no fuss, so we settled on a quiet family dinner with a small cake to mark the ocassion. We went over to cook the food, but true to form, she was already up cooking in the kitchen and not letting anyone help her. After dinner, my sister and I could not wait to give her the present we had been working on that afternoon. She had a digital picture frame filled with pictures of my son’s first year. But since my parents are not quite technologically savy, they never took the memory card to update it. So my sister and I bought a memory stick and filled it with pictures. But it wasn’t just my kids (thought I admit, it was the vast majority of the pictures), it included pictures of me, my sister, my mom, my dad, my dog, my sister’s cat, and included some beautiful engagement photos my husband took of my sister and her fiance. She sat looking at the frame for a good hour, kissing each picture, and just watching them go by. She loved it, it helps her keep her family close.
I’m so glad that we got the opportunity to celebrate this milestone together as a family. It was so important when you are so sad about death, to celebrate life, and my grandmother has had a wonderful life. Happy Birthday, and here’s to many more. Remember, there is a wedding you are expected to attend next year!
* Stared photo taken by Atma Photography. To read more on the four generations photo shoot, and the photos my husband has taken of my grandmother over the years, please read his blog post on the subject, Evolving Four Generations Over Four Years.