My favorite school vacations were those spent at my grandma's house. Just walking into her home, the mixed smell of cigarettes and White Shoulders perfume made me feel warm and happy. It sounds gross now, but that smell brought happy memories. We would sit at her tiny two person kitchen table and play Rummy. We would go to a local restaurant for lunch and watch a fashion show. We would shop, play Wheel Of Fortune against the television contestants and chat. I loved it.
As an adult, I still spent a lot of time with Grandma. When we lived near each other, we would get together to sit and chat or go out to eat quite often. Every holiday was always spent with her. It was so nice. I loved hearing stories about when she was growing up and how times have changed. I loved having her around.
When I moved To Georgia from California with my family, I missed that time with her. With all of the complications and business of being a new mommy to three children, who at one time were all under 3 years of age, I just didn't make it back to visit too often. We talked on the phone but even that diminished from the several times a week calls to once every week or two calls. Being on a different time zone did not help any either. Daily life got in the way of living, if that makes sense.
I went to California with my kids in the summer of 2007. I visited family and friends and with each return date planned to come home to Georgia, I came up with an excuse and a way to extend our stay. My mom, Grandma, my daughter and I had decided that we would take four generation of girls pictures together while I was out there visiting. For some reason, it just kept getting pushed off to another day. When it came close to the end of my visit, we decided to just get together and do it, even if we didn't make it to a portrait studio for it. I am so glad we took the time to take those pictures that day.
Just a few weeks after I left to come back home, I got that call. She had passed away from an aneurysm in her brain. I didn't get to say goodbye.I didn't get to tell her that I loved her. I thought she would live forever. She never seemed frail. She never acted old. I never thought that this would happen. It was so sudden. On August 20, she will have been gone four years. I think I am still shocked by her passing.
I am so thankful today that we took those pictures. We all had complaints about our hair or our makeup or our clothes. We almost pushed it off again.
Today, I look at these pictures and remember an amazing and beautiful woman who I loved. I don't care about what any of us looked like. All that is important is just that we were together and we were able to take that moment to have the memories made. I don't have to search my brain for my last memories of her. I have pictures.
At the time, taking photos doesn't always seem so important. But, afterwards, we are always grateful that the pictures exist.