My blog's name is dedicated to my dear grandmother. Following is the full story of "Don't Forget the Fruit Punch."
Grandmother Thomas had been a Widow since I knew her. I believe my grandpa died just before my oldest brother was born, making her a widow of over 25 years when she came to live with my family. She had always been so independent and even after my grandpa died was determined to live her life to the fullest. She is without a doubt one of my greatest heroes.
She came to live with us in I think June of 2007 after having fallen in the house she had lived alone in for years. Her health problems were getting worse, and even though she didn't want to leave her home in New Orleans, she came to stay with us so my mom could take care of her. Not that it was ever any trouble anyway--Grandmother Thomas always made sure to do as much for herself as she could--she even continued to drive up until the week or so before she died. She died the March after she came to stay with us at age 87 from a condition causing a lack of oxygen to her lungs. We're all grateful it only lasted about a week--she wouldn't have been able to stand not going and doing as much as she was used to.
Now comes the reason for my blog name. Grandmother Thomas was a member of the Methodist church and would faithfully go to the congregation in Leavenworth (where we lived) every Sunday. She always tried to participate in as many social events as possible, including the after-church luncheon that her congregation held every Sunday. The Sunday she died was one Grandmother Thomas had signed up to bring food and drinks--she had already ordered sandwiches from Mr. Goodcents and bought fruit punch. My mom stayed with her that Sunday while the rest of us went to church.
Despite being sick and obviously suffering in bed, most of what my grandmother seemed worried about was making sure the refreshments made it to the church--she couldn't go back on her word. Her last words to my mom, who told her she would take the food to the church, were, "Karen, don't forget the fruit punch!"
Of all the last things to say on her death-bed, that's what she chose. Ever since my mom told me, those words have stayed with me. Such a small, funny thing, but it has always seemed to me a kind of testament to my grandmother's amazing character. She was one of the sweetest ladies I have ever met and probably ever will meet--she was kind to everyone and that's saying something considering she made sure to know a lot of people. Everyone knew her as Ms. Georgia--from the employee at McDonald's to the person who did her hair. She knew every one of those people's names too. She would always look for people who maybe seemed to have it rough and make them feel like the best person who ever lived.
How did she do it? I think by always thinking about others and being optimistic. To the end of her life she was thinking about not only keeping her word, but about those she owed her word to. She was optimistic not only about her own life, but about everyone else's too! She could make anyone's day, and she always seemed to make everyone's day. I miss her and wish so much that I had gotten to know her even more and appreciate her while she was still with me. Not only was she so determined to not forget the fruit punch, but she never seemed capable of forgetting any of the small but happy things in life--she, even in her old age, was full of remembering. So that's what I'm trying to do with this blog--fill it with remembering. And, well, lots of other stuff too. I guess sometimes I like to think that she reads what I write in here and can laugh and agree (or disagree) in heaven.