gabrielle“Can you tell me what year it is?”

My grandma looked at me for an answer.

“No, she can’t help you, just look at me.”


“1938?” the nurse asked.

“Yes, it’s a very good year,” my grandma said smiling.

In 1938, my grandma was 4 years old. Fourteen years later, she met my papa.

The doctors tried taking my grandma’s wedding ring off for her MRI two days ago. It wouldn’t come off. She hasn’t taken it off since he died.

Their love story is one of my favorites. My papa skated up to my gram at the local rollerskating rink and tried joining the conversation she was having with her girlfriends.

“Would you just mind your own business? Go bother someone else, would you?”

He didn’t budge. They were married for almost 50 years.

When he died, she built an addition onto my parents’ house and moved next door to me. I was 15.

I got lucky. My grandma was right there during my crazy, emotional rollercoaster teenage years. She became my rock. She’s never been the type of grandma to bake cookies or cook elaborate meals, but boy does she listen. She listens and listens and nods her head and says things like, “Well, that’s just part of life, Gabrielle,” or “God never gives you more than you can handle,” or “Just enjoy the ride.” I wouldn’t trade her listening and unconditional love for anything.

When I  came home to visit after moving out, I’d knock on her door.

“Oh Gabrielle! When did you get home? You look great! Tell me, what have you been up to?” she’d beam her smile and raise her eyebrows.

When I visited her at the hospital on Monday, she beamed that same smile. “Gabrielle!” She’s the only person in my family who doesn’t call me Gabby.

“Looks like you’re making this an extra special birthday week – getting the royal treatment with all of these doctors and nurses,” I joked with her.

“Oh boy, you bet,” she laughed.

And then we just laid in her hospital bed together and took silly pictures and laughed some more.

When I said goodbye and that I’d be back on Tuesday, she looked at me.

“Is this your new job?”

“Is what my new job? Taking care of you?”

“Yes and everyone else here.”

“I wish, Gram!” I giggled and she did, too.

Today is my grandma’s 80th birthday and we’re all celebrating with her at the nursing home she moved into last night.  We’re going to eat spaghetti and meatballs and I’m bringing her a blueberry muffin. I’m hoping to sneak her in a beer, too. They’re her favorites.

My gram has dementia and is slowly slipping away from us, but I’m not going to act like it’s her last birthday because she promised she’d be at my wedding. She’s supposed to dance with me…she’s a really good dancer.

Love you lovely Louise, my beautiful little gram. Happy Birthday XO



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