I'm taking the weekend to spend time with extended family in Alabama. I have a lot of relatives here with "great" before their title. Driving through Mississippi then rural Alabama I had waves of nostalgia. Summer visits as a kid involved eating "dinner" at noon and then eating it all again for "supper," catching fireflies, fried okra, mosquitoes, southern accents, and small towns.
I am fortunate to have known three of my great grandmothers. Two passed on a few years ago and the other just turned 99. She was spry and with it for most of my life so it was a bit of a shock when her health deteriorated in the past months. I remember climbing in her lap as a kid, watching the birds from her sunroom, and, most fondly, sitting on the porch swing with her like there was nothing else going on the world. She's the sweet Southern woman who loved everyone and told them all to go to church. Most of them did.
When I arrived tonight I was glad she recognized me. Every time I came to her bedside I received a big smile. She laughed when I told her it's ok if she doesn't remember my name, just remember that I'm her favorite great granddaughter. I fought back tears for the first hour I was here, it was hard to see her like this. At one point she told me she's sorry she's sick and cried. I'm sorry too...
As I held her hand I thought about how I want to be 99 looking at three generations ahead of me, to have loved and lived such a full life. She's still beautiful and has quite a spirit despite her health and age. I am grateful to be connected to her.