My grandparents. I miss my grandparents. I miss them so, so much.
You might wonder why I miss them so much. I’ve alluded to it many, many times, but I find it too hard to write about; my words fail to capture what they meant to me, and thinking of them – and my loss – makes me so sad.
When I say my grandparents, I mean my father’s parents. William and Patricia Krizmanich.
They lived less than a half mile away from me when I grew-up. I could walk to their house – and I often did. They were a refuge when I thought my parents were being mean, or when Gregory was making life hard.
They listened to me, they talked to me. They treated me to McDonald’s and outfits from K-Mart. They made me feel loved and accepted. They made time for me. They made me feel safe.
They always had Huggies and other sugary drinks that we weren’t allowed to have at the house. My grandma was always into whatever fad was happening at the time – troll dolls, California Raisins, Beanie Babies – and nothing was off limits. We could play with anything.
When the street fair was in town, we’d blow through all of our money then find my grandma in the bingo hall. She’d give us the money that she won – and she always won – so we could continue to play games and ride rides. Our school picnics were held at Kennywood every year, and every year they went with us. They’d walk around, or save our picnic table at a pavilion, but they were always there.
They were at recitals, football games, cheerleading events, church milestones. They were always, always there to support us.
When I was in middle school, I would occasionally spend Friday nights at their house. We would go out to dinner, then my grandma and I would sit in the kitchen and talk. We’d watch 20/20 with Hugh Downs and Barbra Walters, and I’d sleep in the back bedroom and listen for the trains to rumble by their house.
As special as they made me feel, they did it with all of their grandkids. I wasn’t the only one who was treated like the most beloved person on the planet.
My grandma died in 2000, when I was a sophomore at WVU. She died on Thanksgiving morning. The night before, I was in her hospital room, and I was in the waiting room when my family decided, in unison, to let her go.
I sat in her room by myself, holding her hand. I remember trying not to cry in front of her. I told her how much I loved her. I don’t remember what else I said, but I think I talked for a while. She never responded. As I was walking out of the room, she said, “I love you, Tootsie,” and I was taken aback by the realization that she knew I was there.
While I waited for my mother to pick me up from the hospital – my father didn’t leave until she was gone – my grandfather came downstairs and waited with me. He questioned his decision, and we talked about what my grandmother would wear in her casket. I’d never felt like more of an adult.
My grandfather died last May, a few short weeks before he could meet my daughter. We talked on the phone every Monday. We did FaceTime, and I made a final trip to say my goodbyes. He told me he was ready to go, that he’d had a good life. He told me that Charlotte was the best thing that would ever happen to me. He was so excited that she was coming, and he really wanted to meet her. He liked her name. His goal was to stick around until she made her appearance.
It didn’t work out that way, but I’m pretty sure they met somewhere in between.