My grandma was the best. I miss her all the time.
  1. She was beautiful.
    Grandma was tiny, and soft when you hugged her. She had short, fluffy white curls and twinkly brown eyes. Her smile and laugh were genuine and showed in laugh lines around her mouth and eyes. She always wore a string of beads that coordinated with her outfit when we went out to dinner, and her outfit was always colorful "slacks" and a top, paired with white Keds.
  2. She loved the outdoors.
    She and my grandpa went fishing on their first date. She used to wake me up early when I slept over and show me how to get worms from the garden for bait. She taught us how to catch lizards and frogs. She took us berry picking in the woods, and crabbing in the bay. She and my grandpa used to set up the telescope on the front lawn and wake us up at midnight to see an eclipse or a meteor shower. She had childlike wonder.
  3. She loved to cook.
    When we visited Grandma in Florida, we were awoken every morning by the smell of coffee, bacon, and eggs. She always had fresh fruit on the table and insisted we eat it, but always stocked up on Pop-Tarts too. When we (myself, parents, siblings) became vegetarian, she - who was known for her fried chicken, barbecue ribs, and fresh crabs - just looked up new recipes and kept on cooking.
  4. She had a sweet tooth.
    With her, we were allowed all the things that were forbidden at home. Extra whipped cream on dessert. Sugary cereals, Entenmann's danishes and doughnuts, York Peppermint Patties that she kept in the fridge. We would arrive back at her house after stuffing ourselves at a restaurant and she'd ask who wanted brownies with ice cream.
  5. She made each of us feel so special.
    My mom is one of eight children, and most of them have kids. I have a lot of cousins. Grandma always remembered not only our birthdays and holidays, but the little things about us: what sports and instruments we played, what language we were studying, and what sorts of things we liked. She made us each feel as if we were the only one in the world.
  6. She was adventurous.
    Grandma didn't learn to drive until she was in her 60's. When she got her license, she also got herself a sporty little blue car, and she was not afraid to put the pedal to the metal. She and Grandpa used to take road trips, and she always hopped out of the car at the state lines to take a picture with the "Welcome to..." signs.
  7. She was unflappable.
    Grandma raised her 8 children in a two bedroom house, which she still lived in when I was a kid. So family gatherings usually meant about 5 of her children and their families piled into this little house. And she fed us all a home-cooked meal. The smallest of us lined the stairs, plates on our knees. I never saw her get flustered or sweat. (In comparison, I get panicky about having one other couple over for dinner.)
  8. She had an eagle eye.
    Grandma was an avid jigsaw puzzler. She had a cabinet full of them and was always working on one, the harder the better. She loved for us to pull them out and work on them nearby while she did hers. She also used to take us hunting for shark teeth on the coquina beaches in Florida. Even well into her 70s, she could spot those little fossils from several yards away. She had a whole cabinet full of found treasures from nature.
  9. She was my friend.
    Grandma moved into an assisted living community around the same time I moved away to college. Grandpa had passed away, and she was in poor health due to emphysema. We would talk on the phone regularly and send each other letters. We compared notes on how dorm life was similar to the facility she lived in. In those years, I felt like I got to know her as an individual and as an adult.
  10. She was loved by everyone.
    Grandma made friends everywhere she went. When she passed away, we all made the trek to Florida for a sad sort of reunion. Her assisted living home had a service for her, and so many people came, both residents of the home and friends from her old neighborhood. She was good people, as they say.
  11. She is still with me always.
    I am not a big believer in the supernatural. But I have seen signs of Grandma since she passed away that are hard to ignore. On the year anniversary of her death, I thought I saw her in my rear view mirror, driving the car behind me. When I looked again, she was gone and a rainbow appeared overhead. The last time I was able to visit the beach in Florida where we scattered her ashes, shark teeth washed up at my feet, a few at a time, and I hadn't found a single one until I stopped in that spot.