I felt a little awkward wearing a bright red t-shirt that day even though everyone else in the family was wearing one. When we walked up to the front to greet the rest of the family, we sort of made a ruckus. A lady in a pew behind us reminded us that people were trying to pray. We simmered down and were good even though we were excited. We waited for this day for a long time and were happy that it finally arrived.
Towards the end of Mass, the priest approached the front pew where we were sitting and announced to the congregation that someone was celebrating their 100th birthday. Grandma stood, turned slightly and waved, as Father introduced her. Father asked us to sing Happy Birthday. Grandma smiled, and the rest of us couldn’t help but smile right along with her as we were very proud of her accomplishment.
After Mass was over, we went to the family reunion. Groups of people trickled in. Some brought Polish food. The first presentation was poppy-seed bread. A cousin made six loaves the day before. Then the polka kielbasa made an appearance followed by Aunt Mary’s homemade sausage. I had no idea what the ingredients were, but it tasted fabulous. The beet and horseradish condiment tasted great with the different sausages. Then the cabbage rolls were ready to eat! I got a lot of exercise going back and forth, but it wasn’t enough to keep me from getting full. As if that wasn’t enough, a caterer set very large rolls, pasta dishes, salad and more desserts on the tables.
As people visited with each other and made a point to see Grandma, I thought about how Grandma had been such a great companion to me and the kids when I was a stay-at-home mom with three small children. We tried to visit with her at least once a week. She went to the park with us to help me push the kids in the swings. Other times we visited the library to get books for the kids and Grandma got some too. Visiting the mall was fun especially when Grandma announced that the kids could pick out one special toy. Just as a grandma should, she always made sure that we had cookies or some kind of treat to bring home with us when we parted ways.
The day I married my husband, I was blessed with two Grandmas. They both treated me like I belonged to them. That made me happy because I never got to meet my biological Grandmas because they passed away before I was born. I didn’t know what I was missing until those two wonderful ladies warmly welcomed me into the family.
As the party started to wind down, I sat down next to Grandma. I like the way she always holds my hand when we first talk to each other.
“Hi, Grandma,” I said.
“Hi Mary Ann.”
“Are you having a good time?” I asked her.
“I’m overwhelmed by all the people. It’s so nice how they all came to talk to me. I just wish that my husband could have been here to see everyone. He would have really liked this. Sometimes it was a little hard to figure out who belongs to who.”
“Well, I belong to you!” I said.
“That’s right,” she agreed.
A while ago, I asked Grandma what her secret was and how she got to live to be the age she was then. She said, “Don’t eat the same foods every day. Be sure to eat something different.” But I know it’s more than food. It’s her attitude. Once she told me, “When I feel down, I ask myself, why? I don’t have a reason to be.” Last Christmas, Grandma remembered it was my first Christmas without my Mom, and she said, “I know it’s hard, but you just have to look forward to all the fun things that are coming your way.”
One of my favorite things that Grandma said when someone told her that she spoiled her grandkids was, “If I don’t spoil them, who will?”
If a person can get spoiled by their Grandma’s love, then that makes me rotten!!!