Gama has been my only living grandparent since I was 7 and really the only one I ever knew very well. She lived in the same town as we did for most of my life, and for a good part of that, she was just down the street. She played an integral role in my life and I would not be the same if she hadn't. I remember spending my first nights away from home at her house. She would always take me to Picadilly (a local Lubys- type) to get my favorite plate with Salisbury steak, broccoli with cheese sauce, and mashed potatoes with gravy.
She made lots of clothes for us until I got "too old" for that.
It really irritated her that I didn't think they were cool anymore. =) We spent lots of time up at the cleaners that she owned. She worked hard all her life. I try to imagine what it must have been like to be a single mom during that time and how much determination and perseverance it must of taken to overcome the obstacles for a woman to own a successful business by herself. I don't think that she ever did it because she liked the idea of being successful or making money; she always said that she wanted to give my dad (and us) the best life that she could...and she did. She bought me a car my Senior year of high school so that I could come back and forth from college the following year.
She always told me that a woman should have an education and skill to be able to support herself if she needed to. Those weren't empty words because when it came time for high school graduation, she paid for me to go to college.
Gama lived her whole life in the Monroe, LA area, but moved here several years ago to be close to all of us. Three years ago, Charlton graduated from law school in Philly and we moved back to Houston because we wanted to build a home close to our families. I spent two days a week with her our first year back and am so glad that I did. It gave me a different perspective on what aging was like for her (she didn't like it), and how self-less her love was for her main concern to be a better life for us with the things that she suffered in her own life. She wasn't very tactful or gentle about giving her opinions but I know her purpose was usually to help.
In November, my parents moved down the street from us and she moved across town with them to a new assisted living facility close by.
At that point she needed to be cared for by trained medical staff, but she was the one pushing for the move because she said she wasn't getting to see Steven enough. We've tried to visit her once a week since she moved in. No matter how she felt, she always lit up when she saw Steven. In the last few months, he was getting really good at talking to her and showing her things and she loved that he was trying to interact with her. I'm so glad that we have pictures of them together. I hope that we will always be blessed by living so close to family and being involved in their lives like mine was by Gama.