“There are all kinds of love in this world but never the same love twice.” - F. Scott Fitzgerald
There are in fact all types of love in this world: the love between siblings, the love between two people dating, the love between parents and children, the love between a grandmother and her grandchildren. The last love, the most unconditional of all.
You were my babysitter growing up. My mom liked dropping us off with you when she needed to run errands, or just needed a break. True, she liked dropping us off with you, but we loved it. We loved you. We loved you endlessly, which was almost as much love as you exhibited toward us everyday.
When I was a child, I loved you because you were non-judgmental. You'd let me double-fist Popsicles if that's what I wanted. I loved you because of your limitless imagination. You could (and did) make a sack of potatoes entertaining. We’d spread them out into little towns, or count them or watch my brother try to eat them. I loved you because we had no limits. If we wanted to ransack your closet to play dress up, you'd lead the way. When we wanted to make salad for the squirrels, you'd provide us with open access to tear apart your shrubs and giggle as we dumped oregano into our inedible soup. You were the best babysitter and best friend any kid could want.
When I was an angsty teen, I loved you because you told me I was beautiful, despite the mountains of pimples on my face. Even if I showed up in sweat pants, you made me feel like a movie star.
I loved your small acts of kindness. I could carry in the vegetables my dad grew in his garden, and you'd throw me $5 for all my hard work. I loved you because you were my number one fan. Despite not being one for crowds, you'd still make it to at least one basketball game here and there. And even when you weren't there, you'd follow the entire season through newspaper clippings and game-by-game reports from my dad. You were so proud of even the smallest of accomplishments, and downright ecstatic for the big ones.
When I became a young adult, that's when I really started to understand how incredible you were. And how much I loved you. When I was little, I never understood just how strong you were, how you raised three college-educated and successful kids on your own. You were not only mom, but also dad and sole breadwinner as a nurse’s aid after your husband left. You were the very definition of an independent woman.
You'd stay up all night praying for us every time me or one of my siblings would drive back to college. You'd send us care packages with the most eclectic stuff that only you would pick out, like shower caps, toothpaste, cookies from other countries, and colorful knee-highs. Then you’d send an accompanying card where you’d give speech bubbles to the animals on the front so they were talking to each other. You were quirky, and encouraged me to be comfortable being just who I am. You always made me feel like I was more than enough.
The last time I saw you, I wish I told you how much you inspire me, how much of you I carry with me, how often I think of you. I wish I detailed to you every way in which you influenced me, and every way that I am you but with more confidence, because you did everything you could to build up my self-assurance. Even if I did tell you how wonderful you are, you probably wouldn't have believed me. You're the most unassuming person in the world, moving through life's paces without asking anything in return. You would have thought you didn't deserve the official send-off that my dad's fellow officers gave to you at your wake, when in reality you deserved trumpets, harps, and the whole nine yards laid out on a red carpet to say goodbye.
There certainly isn't going ever going to be a love like this twice in my lifetime. No one I love will ever treat me with such unequivocal, unconditionally blinding compassion that you showed me, but being able to love and be loved by you, Grammy, is enough to carry me through a lifetime. You are my heart, my soul, my weird side, my kind side, my smile, and now my angel.