Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Grandma Leftwich

Ruby Katherine Dooley Leftwich was my Grandmother.  She passed away in March.  She battled Alzheimer’s for many years.  As sad as it is to lose someone you are close to, when you have seen them suffer for so many years, it is almost a relief to see them “go home.”  I have now lost all of my Grandparents. 
I had the great honor of being able to speak at Grandma’s funeral. 

My Grandma, Ruby Katherine Dooley Leftwich was always happiest when she was feeding someone.  Everytime there was a family gathering or we would visit, there was always a spread of so many wonderful things!  She was always famous for her Preacher Cookies and chocolate pie, that Brett always had to de-foam.  But also, she made the most amazing pancakes!  Even though, when spending the night at Grandma and Granddaddy's house, their aroma would wake my brother and me up very early in the morning, it was worth it!  My Uncle Freddie would always tell Grandma she needed to open a pancake house!  I think she would have had a very lucrative business.  I have tried very hard to duplicate her pancakes.  As close as I get, they are just not the same.

Even though she would always receive praise for her culinary expertise, she was always so modest about it.  When I was in middle school, I made an oven rack puller for her.  It was made of wood and I had very lovingly stenciled "Greatest Cook" on the handle.  It always sat above her stove and when I would arrive, at her house, the stenciled letters would always be facing the wall instead of out where everyone could read them.  I would always turn it to face out.  She would always say, "It's not true." I would simply tell her "yes it is" and I would turn it back over when she was not looking.

Being the 3rd of Ruby's 7 Grandchildren, I was quite impressionable when we would visit my Dad's parents home.  Once, when I was very young, I can remember being quite impressed with my Grandma's no fear ability when her Grandchildren were in possible danger.  Two of my cousins, my younger brother and I were all headed out to play on the swingset that sat in the side yard at Ruby and Carlton's house.  As we happily skipped out to the swingset, we all jumped over the long piece of black plastic, or so we thought.  The next thing we knew, Grandma had come out with a shovel and was killing what was actually a snake that we had jumped over.  She did not want anything to happen to her Grandchildren.  

I always thought of my Grandma and Granddaddy Leftwich as wealthy.  Every time I had a birthday, they would send me a $5 bill in my birthday card.  Often, they would send a $1 bill for me to give to my brother, which I never liked to have to do.

My childhood memories of Grandma Leftwich are so clear in my head, but sadly my relationship with Grandma has been non-existent in my adult years.  The disease she suffered, for so many years, robbed all of us of having a relationship with her.  Because of her Alzheimer's/Dementia she has never known my husband, she has never known my children and she has not known me in quite a few years. My daughter, Emily, is named for Ruby.  Emily's middle name is Katherine.  She is so proud that she is named for my Grandma Leftwich, but sadly she does not know how special that really is.

Several years ago I made a calendar with pictures of my Dad and Mom, my brother, my Grandparents, my cousins and my Aunts and Uncles.  I gave it to Grandma for Christmas.  In it, I also had my cousins, my Dad, my brother and my Aunts and Uncles , share memories of their childhood and visiting families, etc. I put these quotes in the calendar.  Some of my cousins shared specific memories of Grandma Leftwich and I would like to take this opportunity to share these memories with you.

My cousins Shawn and Michelle and I wrote about the snake story.  Apparently we were all quite impressed.  

My cousin Michelle wrote, "Grandma and Grandpa's yard was great for running and chasing each other with that hill on the side of the house."

My cousin Brett wrote, "When Grandma would make biscuits she would let me open the can of biscuits (when they were not made from scratch) and put them on the pan.  I loved the sound the can of biscuits made."

My brother Paul wrote, "I remember being exceptionally tired and wanting to stay in bed, but the wonderful scent of pancakes coming up the stairs would always keep me from falling back to sleep.  I remember smelling Granddaddy's coffee when I made my way downstairs and how much Grandma seemed to love watching us enjoy them."

My cousin Kristi wrote, "I remember whenever we would go to Grandma's house to visit, before we left Grandma would take yummy things from the freezer and garden to our car so we could have them at home.  For some reason, she never wanted Granddaddy to know."

I miss my Grandma Leftwich very much, but have missed her for a long time.  I am glad she is in a place now where her mind is with her and she isn't confused or scared anymore.  A place where she will know everyone and be able to do things for herself.  A place where she will be reunited with my Aunt Judy and my Granddaddy.  I found a beautiful poem that made me think of my Grandma Leftwich and how I feel about the life she has lead over the past several years

ALZHEIMER'S
By:  Richard Underwood

You didn't die just recently,
You died some time ago.
Although your body stayed a while, 
And really didn't know.

For you had got Alzheimer's, 
You failed to comprehend.
Your body went on living.
But your mind had reached its end.

So we've already said, "Goodbye",
To the person that we knew.
The person that we truly loved, 
The person that was, "You."

And so we meet again today, 
To toast your bodies end.
For it was true and faithful, 
Until right at the end.

And so, when we remember, 
We'll think of all the rest.
We'll concentrate on earlier,
And remember all the best.

For in the real scheme of things, 
Your illness wasn't long.
Compared to all the happiness, 
You brought your whole life long.

We think of you as yesterday,
When you were fit and well.
And when we're asked about you,
It's those things that we'll tell.

And so we meet in 'membrance,
Of a mind so fit and true.
We're here to pay our last respects
To say that, "We love you." 

Grandma, I miss you a lot.  I know you finally know who I am again.  Save me a seat until I get there!  Love you!!