Thursday, July 06, 2006

Happy 31st Birthday to Me

Only 8 more minutes left in this day of birthday celebration. I can't believe I am 31. Elizabeth told me yesterday "Mom, it still seems like you're 29." What a daughter!

My birthday always brings bittersweet feelings. I do enjoy the celebration of the day, the family party, the birthday money :). However, 12 years ago today, my grandmother, Grandma Bowman, passed away. I was 19 years old and had just completed my freshman year of college. Grandma had heart problems, and during my childhood years she did have some health concerns. When I was very young, she had bypass surgery, but for the next several years she did pretty good. I'm not really sure when she started going downhill, but it seemed like it happened quickly. Maybe it was because I was absorbed in college life and didn't really pay attention. When I look at pictures from my brother's wedding in June, she doesn't look well at all. She was admitted into the hospital shortly after that, and then she was transferred to Indianapolis. I remember receiving the phone call informing us that she wasn't doing well - I was working paint crew at Indiana Wesleyan, and we were repainting the bathrooms in Bowman Hall. I left work immediately and drove down to Indy, and shortly after, she passed away. I had stopped by the hospital a couple days before to see her, but I didn't get to see her that day. After she passed away, my family gathered in her room and surrounded her singing hymns, but I couldn't bring myself to participate. It was a sad, sad day - July 6, 1994.

In memory of my grandmother, I would like to post some memories I have of her and our times together.

Grandpa and Grandma lived on Nebraska Street, about 5 minutes away from our house. I spent a lot of time with them growing up. When I was a kid, my grandpa had retired and spent his days in the garden or garage. My grandmother didn't work outside the home, and she spent her days doing typical household chores, tending to the flowers and garden goodies, and watching soap operas and the Cincinatti Reds. Aside from an occasional vacation and church, they were almost always home. When I would hang out with Grandma, we had our favorite activities - watching the Young and the Restless (I loved the theme song,) playing skipbo or rummikub, and doing word searches. When she wasn't up doing something, she was sitting in her chair in the corner of the "den" (I called it the family room.) We would spend hours in that den passing the time.

Grandma was an avid sports fan, and she was one of my biggest fans when I was playing sports. During my high school tennis matches, she and Grandpa came to all the home matches, and some away matches, too, and they would park the car right behind the court I was playing on. They would also travel to tennis tournaments that we were playing in, and they rarely missed a basketball game. After Grandma passed away, Grandpa gave me a scrapbook that Grandma had kept without my knowledge. Almost any time there had been a newspaper clipping about one of my sporting events, she had cut it out - even junior high basketball scores!

Grandma loved to go to church. Mom, Dad, and Grandpa sang in the choir, so Grandma and I would sit in the "narthex" (now known as the foyer, I think) and read the bulletin during early Sunday morning practice. She always had a piece of wrigley gum in her Bible for me. I was really excited when there was a bible cryptogram puzzle in my Sunday School papers because we would figure it out together during the sermon. She went up to the altar with my brother and me one Sunday after a sermon - my mom was in the choir loft and came down to meet us. She never sang a solo in church, but she belted out the hymns in a soprano voice during the singing.

Christmas Eve was a special tradition growing up. My family would go over to Grandma and Grandpa's house late afternoon. My cousins, aunt, and uncle also came over. The cousins would patiently wait on the adults to finish "supper" (now known as dinner) so we could search for our stockings. We still do this tradition with Grandpa and Millie, and the great-grandkids now have their stockings, too. Each year we would take a cousins picture - I have several of them at home. We continue to do a cousins, spouses, children picture - it's a pretty large group, now. I've wanted my kids to have the same type of traditions, so we now go over to my parents' house on Christmas Eve.

I pass by their house on Nebraska Streeet often. The porch swing is gone, the garden is overgrown, the garage door is always down. It's not the house I remember growing up, but I don't need visual cues to remember all the great times that I had in that house. I know my Grandma would have loved to meet her great-grandchildren. She was so involved with all 4 of her grandkids - each in their own special way. I miss her.


Blogger Jim and Jaena said...

I miss her too, Deb. Especially at times when I look ar Madelyn...I remember that she loved babies. Mom will sometimes tell Madelyn (and Elisha too), "Your Grandma Bowman would have loved to see you" (or hold you or whatever.)

One year for Christmas she sewed an entire set of clothes for my dolls. Beautiful dresses with little bonnets. I still have them packed away and am saving them for Madelyn to play with.

We are blessed with such wonderful memories of her! Thanks for reminding me of them (and her)today.

July 07, 2006 8:55 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Deb- What wonderful memories of your grandma (and grandpa). Thank you for sharing with us all. You have encouraged me to write my grandma's and tell them how special memories I have of them are to me!

By the way-happy belated birthday!

July 07, 2006 10:45 AM  
Blogger Holly said...

Happy Birthday (a day late)!!

July 08, 2006 12:17 AM  
Anonymous Mom said...

I understand your bittersweet feelings about July 6th. Grandma Bowman loved her grandchildren, and enjoyed everything they did. For your birthday that year, she had already bought you a hat. Do you remember that Grandpa Bowman gave it to you later that day or the next? Thursday night when Daddy and Millie left after your party, I walked them out to the car and had the chance to hug Daddy, telling him that the day had special memories for us all. He just smiled and nodded, knowing what I meant. It is so sweet of you to give a tribute to your Grandma Bowman. She would have liked hearing the memories that you shared with her.


July 08, 2006 7:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! Just want to say what a nice site. Bye, see you soon.

July 19, 2006 8:44 PM  

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