Along time ago, about 11 years actually, I was in the Kennedy Airport in NYC waiting for my flight to Paris. I was on my way to be a missionary where I would teach people the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And some English, on the side.
There were several hours between flights and so I called my mom--collect, of course; I didn't have any money. She answered the phone, excited to talk to me. I heard a muffled voice in the background.
"Grandma says hi, " my mom reported from her mother. My grandma! She was at my house and I was in New York! I hadn't even known she was coming in. Not that it mattered. I was taking off to France, and scared to death at the prospect.
More muffled voice. Reprimanding.
"Excuse me," my mom said. "Grandma didn't say hi, she said to tell you she sends you her very special love."
That gave me a laugh, and a little boost of confidence when I needed it. And from then on that was my Grandma's title: My Very Special Love Grandma.
Not one given to intimate conversation and the bearing of one's most appalling secrets, Grandma relied on numerous adjectives she kept at her side, in her pocket, in her handbag next to the gum, in her cookie jar.
If ever greeted by her voice when answering the phone she would identify you and then proceed to tell you how marvelously sweet you were, how amazingly talented you were and that she was so proud of all the good things you did and who you were. That you were an Angel. Definitely Capital A.
She promptly sent birthday cards, with every word underlined at least twice. And the words she thought were most important would be underlined even more times. It was as if she couldn't bear the thought that you might not quite understand how much she loved "you." (She was notorious for adding quotation marks to the pre-printed card inscriptions as well. All her emphasis was on "your" amazing greatness.)
Ask her many grandchildren if they think they were secretly her favorite. Every single one of them will raise their hand.
My Very Special Love Grandma passed away peacefully on Saturday morning. She was an amazingly fun and humble woman. It's odd to think she's really gone. But I suppose it's the season for my grandmothers to be passing on to the next life. My grandma lived a life full of service, a life that was not easy. But she was happy and faithful and truly someone to emulate.
I love you, Grandma. Thanks for your very special love.
We're driving out to Colorado for the funeral so I'll be back next week.