Meet my sweet and loveable Grandma. Oh Grandma, how I adore her. "Gramma G". The nickname suits her so well. She has been hip and cool for as long as I can remember. Heck, she got a tattoo at the age of 60. I remember interviewing her for a high school project back in the day and learning all about how her and my Grandpa had met as kids playing around the neighborhoods of Chi-CAW-go. They eventually married and had three kids, my mom falling smack in the middle of two boys.
Growing up, my Grandma and Grandpa Ruszczak lived just a few blocks away, and as you would expect, they pop up quite frequently in my memories of childhood. My Grandma worked in the deli of a local grocery store called Mr. Z's, and she was guaranteed to sneak us rolled up pieces of bologna whenever we stopped in. My Grandpa, on the other hand, was the resident expert in key-making at the local Ace Hardware, and I still to this day have the smiley-face covered key he made for me to fit the door to my parents' house when I was in the early years of high school.
I just took a major trip down memory lane visiting Mr. Z's and Ace Hardware, and plastered across my face now is a big, fat smile. G&G R have always had that ability to make me smile because they have always been just so darn cute and supportive and loving. Bear hugs and candy. That's what grandparents are for!
But more than that, they were a model of love. Even after 50+ years of marriage, my Grandpa would look at my Grandma like she was the only woman on Earth. He loved my Grandma, quite literally, with the entirety of his ginormous heart. When we lost my Grandpa to a stroke and (unbeknownst to us, cancer too) in 2008, I was worried about the remaining pea in the pod. I was worried about Gramma G. But to my blissful delight, Gramma G bounced back like no one I've seen before. She has demonstrated a strength I never knew she had. She learned how to pay the bills and how to fix things around the house. She started going to exercise class every week, and she made new girlfriends. She hangs out with those friends and plays bingo. She lost bundles of weight and looks healthier and more agile than ever before. She is spry. She is active. She is social. And she is independent. Seeing my Grandma reinvent herself has been so inspiring. I'm so proud of you, Grandma. I love you.