“And I don’t see how you could ever be anything but mine” – Kenny Chesney
Well, here we are: day 3 of discussing Saturday’s impact – the highs and lows. We got Sheri and JD married, we showered Amanda and Casey, and now we’re left to talk about the earth shattering reality that my Grandma Houston is no longer here. I’ve written this post in my head half a dozen times, but it’s taking every ounce of strength I possess to put it in writing – almost like writing it out makes it real, final. I’m thankful for the cathartic release of writing, it’s kept me sane over the last 15 months, but today it’s an extremely painful catharsis.
Saturday would have been Grandpa Rusty’s 86th birthday, and I find relief knowing that she joined him in Heaven to celebrate. We would be lucky to love and be loved the way my grandparents loved each other. How poetic. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very much so in a selfish, irrational, “I just want her back” place, but I know she was ready and that gives me peace.
There was nothing she loved more than her grand babies, until Peyton came along and stole the show, after that we were lucky to get and keep her attention. Nick was always the favorite, baby of the bunch and only boy, he was a shoo-in for favorite. She loved us fiercely, and made sure we knew it. I’m thankful Peyton got to know her and it hurts to think that she won’t get to meet the other babies that are sure to join us in the future.
I can’t think of a time that we weren’t laughing. She was witty, she was quick on her feet, and she was always looking forward to “Time for Scotch”. It was always 4:30 in her kitchen in Houston, which helped with happy hour. She always had ice cream, and on many occasions it served as a complete meal – anything goes at Grandma Houston’s house. We spent a week there every summer, swimming at the club, playing Gin, and sitting as close to her as possible. Even as an adult, I always looked for ways to share her chair, or hold her hand, or just be in her personal space. She taught me how to play solitaire – she dealt herself on the ottoman – and it’s still my go to for idle moments.
She always wanted to know how all of you were, whether she knew you or not. Asked about everyone’s babies, couldn’t believe how many weddings we had, and always wanted to see pictures. She loved Ian. She loved what Hico gave us, and loved seeing us in the paper. She made the best chocolate sheet cake, grandma cookies, and grandma rolls. Her shrimp dip on shrimp is to die for. Obviously we never were hungry for long.
One of my favorite memories was when I had the chicken pox. I got them when I was older, 6 or 7, and mom sent me to Houston to recover on my own rather than contaminating everyone else. I had Grandma Houston to myself for an entire week, and got every single thing I wanted. We rented movies every day from the grocery store. We played cards, we ate lots of ice cream, and spent the entire week together. I’m sure it was more work than she bargained for, especially since I was trapped inside and she couldn’t escape my non-stop talking by taking me swimming. Y’all think I ramble now? Imagine 6 year old Sunny.
Grandma Houston was amazing. She took up golf so she could play in women’s events while Grandpa Rusty worked for Texaco. She hit hole-in-ones, she taught me how to fill divots, and she made sure she brought something to every conversation she found herself in. We shared a love for knickknacks, everything had a story and a place. She loved to celebrate, and I am determined to carry on that quality. One year at Thanksgiving we showed up and everyone had monogrammed towels, color coded by family. The next year we each got monogrammed initial black turtlenecks – I’ll have to find that picture, it’s funny. We got bandannas one year and all looked like gangsters, she had a cup towel with a picture of the Queen for the London Olympics, and at the lake when we celebrated their 50th anniversary she busted out a black trash bag full of stuff and we had a Chinese Christmas in August – the list goes on.
I imagine their reunion looked similar to this, a lot has happened in the 3.5 years since we lost Rusty. We’re celebrating her life at the end of April in Norman, complete with a multi-event 3 day agenda, hotel room block, and a cousin van. She would absolutely hate that we’re fussing over her, but I’m looking forward to honoring her in the city that meant so much to her. She was ready to go, she was prepared and had accepted this next step. The logical part of me needs the memorial in order to process everything – Type A for ya; the illogical part of me wants her back, snuggling me on the couch and asking about “What’s his name” – she never could remember Kenneth’s name. I’ve cried, a lot, and I don’t think I’m done but I know she’s happy and healthy again in the arms of the man she loves.
Keep your lap open, Grandma Houston, it’ll be the first thing I look for when we meet again.