The Grandmother I Met But Never Knew

I wish I’d been able to know her.

Chelsea Nelthropp
Human Parts


Photo by Danie Franco on Unsplash

Growing up, I never knew my father’s mother, whom I simply referred to as grandma. I talked to her, saw her, and had family dinners with her, but I never knew her. It wasn’t my fault, nor was it hers. My grandma had a stroke several years before I was born, altering her personality and memory forever.

After the stroke, my grandma’s short-term memory was pretty much gone. She met me and my twin brother over and over, but she could never remember exactly who we were or our names. But she never forgot her husband, whom I called (and still call) granddad.

The love between my grandma and granddad was palpable. My granddad would wheel my grandma across the house, as the stroke had affected her ability to walk. He ensured she always had the best seat during parties and was surrounded by people. She was never forgotten in a distant corner.

He would anticipate her every need before she knew she needed it, giving her a drink of water or salting her food just so. He would let her say the prayer before we ate — he knew how much she enjoyed it. She would cheerfully shout, “God bless us everyone. Amen!” before we commenced our family dinners.

My grandma felt the same way and adored my granddad. Even though her short-term memory was hazy…