My grandma would have been 81 today. It's hard to believe she was taken from us over 15 years ago. To say she was an amazing woman would not only be cliche but wouldn't do her justice.
As a sophomore in high school at the time of her death, I had only begun to know the woman she was.
At barely five foot and a hundred pounds, my grandma was a spit-fire. She was at every softball game, music recital, first day of school, picnic...there wasn't anything she'd miss. Even as her body was deteriorating, she'd fight through the pain to spend one more minute with her grandchildren.
My fondest memories always revolve around summertime. From extended weekends at the country house without my parents to painting toe nails on the back patio, my grandma loved being outside almost as much as she loved her grandchildren.
She'd spend her days with a beer in her hand, ribs on the grill and a baseball game on the radio. She was a cool grandma.
It wasn't hard to convince her that we needed to have a sleepover at her house. I think she found our creative ways of asking quite entertaining. My grandpa would always go to be early. Then we'd hang out watching cable television, eating Spanish peanuts and drinking Pepsi.
She was diagnosed with stomach cancer when I was in grade school. Being so young, I didn't understand the severity of the word cancer. This was grandma. Nothing was going to break her.
In the end, the cancer won. But she put up a good fight.
She wasn't at my wedding. She couldn't be there when my children were born. She didn't hold my hand through the major trials of my life.
But somehow, I know she is here. Guiding me through life. Smiling down on me from heaven.
Happy Birthday, Grandma. I love you!