Tuesday, February 22, 2011
When I was three, my great grandma lived with me. We played games together like puzzles. Sometimes she would make me mad because she didn’t understand what I was saying and we would fight. I learned she had a disease where she couldn’t remember things. When I moved to Cedar City, she moved to a senior citizens place where they helped take care of her. But I still would visit her every time I came to town. She always had a treat saved for me. When I would see her she was always excited to see me and the other old ladies always were excited too. They would want to give me hugs and kisses. Her memory has gotten worse and worse and now she has to live in a place where they can help her a lot. She doesn’t remember people very well. Sometimes she thinks my grandpa, her son, is her brother. Sometimes she thinks my grandma is her sister. But when I come to visit her, she still gets excited and remembers who I am. Maybe she remembers me because we did a lot of things together when she lived with me. Everyone should still visit old people even if they are sick or have a bad memory. It helps them have a better life and be more happy.
I have been neglectful of my blog the last little while but I thought today might be a good time to post so I can memorialize my mother-in-law, Fae Barraclough Wright Cox Stubblefield; the woman with the name almost as tall as she was. Fae was born on November 1, 1924 about 30 minutes after her twin sister Fern. She grew up poor since her father was disabled and there were six kids. She slept with her two sisters Fern and Loraine in a double bed until Loraine got married. She loved telling stories of how her and Fern would trick dates and teachers pretending to be the other one. Fae married early and had two boys. Their father raised them. She then married Steve's Dad. They had and raised Kenny, Geniel, LeeAnn, and Steve. I first met Fae almost 36 years ago at Steve's graduation from college. He introduced me to her as his "friend". I was offended not realizing he had a long term girlfriend that Fae knew much better. In fact she called me that girl's name for the first year of our dating. I didn't get offended at that, she's called all of us by the wrong name over time, including being called a dog's name every now and then.
Fae has always been an important part of our lives. Steve took on the role of caregiver from the time his Dad died and that role never ended. In the meantime, we had lot's of benefits of having her around. She was always very willing to tend our kids and she bailed a working mom and dad out on a regular basis. My kids enjoyed the opportunity of having a grandma around always. She also invited us to Sunday dinner every week and she was a great cook. She would ask where I wanted to go on my birthday for dinner and my request was always her chicken and potatoes with milk gravy. I'll never get the milk gravy right. She was also a pie maker and in recent years as her dementia increased, I had to pick up pie making and that too will always be lacking. Fae never missed one of Geneya and Geoff's events (unless we didn't tell her so we could sneak out without her and that was rare because she loved it too much we would feel guilty). She sat through several versions of "Indian Boogy" at Mrs. Tunbridge's piano recitals. She was their biggest fan at every sporting event. She didn't care much for the referees and there are probably many of them that still remember the fiesty gray-haired lady in the stands. But she thought Geoff could do no wrong. She did worry at each game because the other team was always bigger than our boys and there were always more of them but she didn't plan in their secret weapon, her in the stands. My favorite story, though not at the time, was when we were planning Snow Canyon in basketball when Geoff was a freshman. The gym was fairly empty and Geoff and Brock Sargent were doing their usual wrangling under the basket for the ball. Of course Grandma thought Brock was fouling Geoff so when they finally called a foul on him, she yelled across the gym "They finally caught you, you little jackass." I turned to her in total embarrassment and told her she couldn't call the kids jackasses. She said "I just did." Ohhhh and only about 8 more years of sports to go with Geoff. It was an interesting ride. We always tried to sit behind Nancy Topham at the basketball games because she said she thought Fae was cute. Steve and I would sit on each side of her to protect the rest of the audience and we would try to locate among fans and not too close to parents who she might want to comment on their boys playing ability.
As she got more impaired with dementia, we decided to move her into our house. We already had three generations with us, Geoff, Geneya, and Colby, a 4th couldn't be much more chaotic. And with two dogs, a third wouldn't make much difference. It helped to have so many people to keep her company and safe but the best treat for her was having Colby. They became best friends, playing together and fighting together. You had to keep track just so the fight didn't get too serious for either of them. He got a little frustrated with her because she couldn't remember things but wanted to make him behave. One day his frustration got the best of him and he whack her on the head with a little bat I had brought him from Louisville. I'm not sure he had that bat for more than a day before it was taken away. He did love her and even after she moved to Cliff View, he wanted to go see her and was willing to let the old ladies sitting by her on the couch in the lobby give him a hug. Theirs was a special bond.
She has gone. It's hard to believe that just a little over 3 years ago, Steve had her hiking to Grass Lake, a steep and rocky couple of miles. But then again he had Colby to help :). I'm sure she is having a great reunion with her twin sister, Fern and we all know she has probably already danced a few tunes with Pinky, Steve's Dad who has been gone just a few days short of forty years. That reunion should be incredible. We will all miss her, but she did leave us with incredible memories, lot's of great stories, and the consistency of having her with us for such a long time.
When I was a kid, my Aunt Gerry gave my cousins and I each our own guardian , mine was Rachel from the bible. I never understood why Rachel was my guardian angel until I got Fae and then I understood. I knew that where I was going Fae was going too. I don't think I ever realized until now just how lucky I was to have her. I love you Fae. Give my mom a hug for me.