Sunday, February 10, 2013

Norma Reid, RIP

My sweet grandmother, Norma Doris Smith Reid, died Thursday, February 6th. She was buried yesterday in Vicksburg, MS. And I wasn’t there. This was the second time in the last year I will not be at a grandmother’s funeral. My other grandmother, Juanita Bane, died a year ago, just a few weeks after we arrived in Tanzania.

As with my other grandmother, I can’t really tell you too much about her long life. I can’t say I know many of the personal details of who she was. Funny thing about grandmothers; it doesn’t really matter who she is, or who she was. She’s just your grandmother, and that’s all you really need to know. I will say this: my relationship with her grew stronger as I got older. She was certainly important to me as a child, but as I got older, my grandmother become more of a friend, and it was a relationship I will always cherish.

As I started writing this, I was flooded with thoughts and memories. It would take me days to write them all down, so here are just a few:

She had four kids, three boys and a girl. And she loved them all, and she was proud of them, and she hurt for them and they struggled, as marriages failed, and they were sick. She loved to see them. And those four kids gave her a slew of grandchildren. I was the first. She loved all of us, too.

She was a strong woman. Late in the 1990's, my grandfather had a stroke that left him unable to really say much and confined to a wheelchair. She adapted to the situation and took care of him for years. I’m sure it was hard, but I never heard her complain. And when he died, it broke her heart, but she kept going. And I watched her sit at the bedside of her firstborn child (my father) as he died. It broke her heart, but she was strong an kept on going. Life was not over for her.

She became a very close friend of my mother is her later years. They were always friends, but the bond between them grew as my dad was sick, and after he died it grew even stronger.

My grandparents loved to travel, and twice the drove to Alaska and back from Mississippi. They would be gone a month at a time. This always seemed so exciting to me as a  child (and really, it WAS exciting. Who wouldn’t want to do that?) And this was the days before digital cameras, and she would return with so many rolls of film to develop, which she would then type labels for and meticulously construct photo albums of her trips. She did the same for family reunions.

My grandparents were longtime friends with Country Music Hall of Famer Sonny James. I don’t know how they met (maybe someone can add that story in the comments section below) but all I know as they would visit him and his wife and always received cards and letters over the years.

My grandfather used to have a jukebox business, so there were TONS of 45 records at the house. I remember one day (in my adult years) a bunch of family was at her house and  we popped some Booker T and the MGs on the turntable and I remember thinking it was so cute to see my grandmother bopping around the kitchen dancing to “Time is Tight.” I always think of her when I hear it.

She loved casinos. Good Lord, did she love casinos. She was always out and about, popping in to see people and play the slots. She never really won big, but that wasn’t the point. It was a place to go with something to do and people to see. The employees would see her and greet her like old friends. She knew their names and was happy to see them, too. When my dad was working for IGT, he was often in town at one of the casinos servicing a machine and she’d pop up to see him. She gambled often enough to get a lot of comps- free rooms, discounts, free meals. Anytime Katie and I came to town, she’d gather as many family members as possible to meet at some casino buffet and she cover the whole meal. She got Katie and I plenty of free rooms. And up until her health was failing and her eyesight was giving out to the point she couldn’t go (which was very recently, I should add), my Aunt Susan would drive her out so she could spend a few minutes playing some games. She loved it.

She took great delight in picking out cards for people’s birthdays. I know this sounds minor, but her love of a good greeting card cannot be overstated.

She loved pageants. For years she never missed a Miss Vicksburg or a Miss Mississippi pageant. She loved them.

She loved watching golf games on TV and she was a diehard Tiger Woods fan. She loved him and talked about him all the time.

She loved those creepy-ass “Ghost Hunter” types of shows. She saw one on a haunted house in Cape May, NJ and always said she wished she could have gone to see it during our wedding. I know she’s in a better place now, but if she was given the option, she’d probably have a blast haunting somewhere for a little while.

She was very supportive of us going to Tanzania. She thought our stories were so interesting and loved to hear about our travels, our adventures, our challenges. She was proud of what we were doing. I talked with her in early December. That was the last time we spoke, but I will always remember her laughing and asking all sorts of questions about our Serengeti safari.

The last few months were very hard for her. She fell and cracked one of her vertebrae. She was in a lot of pain, and then in early December, her Brother Cecil died of a heart attack. I think the pain and Cecil’s death were just too much. She tried to rally, but in the end it was too much. Evidently she had a stroke.

My Mamaw was fun, quick to laugh and easy to talk to. She was a great lady, and I thank her for all the wonderful memories she has given us.

Mamaw Reid, you will be missed.