This list’s thankfulness theme is a person, and everything about her for which I am thankful. Her name was Christine. On June 13, 2008, she went home to her Father. She was 63 years old and had been fighting an unknown lung disease for two years.
81. She ran a daycare for years, as long as I knew her, entirely alone. She babysat an average of, what? 10? kids every day. All day. Alone. Into her fifties. And they were always well behaved. It was never chaos. Which is even more remarkable when you take note of the fact that I was one of those kids.
82. When I was little she middle-named me more than my mom did. “Brittany Ann!”
83. She made absolutely the best macaroni, homemade, ever.
84. She woke up every Christmas morning at five a.m. to make breakfast for all of us. And I mean a smorgasbord. Pastries, coffee, juice, cinnamon rolls, eggs, bacon, all of it. She had to, for all of us. There was never less than eleven people at Christmas.
85. She took me to a flea market when I was five on our way back from Disneyland the first time. She’d just bought me a teaset that morning. A miniature one, really cute. For my barbies. But then I saw those blue and pink ones – a full-sized teapot and sugar bowl set. Porcelain. Ribbons and gold and a picture of flowers on the front. Now I think they’re the most god-awful decorations ever made, but she only bought them for me because I promised not to break them. It’s been almost eighteen years and I’m not going to get rid of them now, not after I managed to keep them in one piece for so long. I made her proud.
86. She used to promise me little presents for little accomplishments. I managed to keep my room reasonably clean for a week and I got that Barbie I wanted so bad. I got a B in math and she bought me the jewelry box that was on my shelf for such a long time.
87. When I was in kindergarten she came to pick me up after school and I was really excited. I ran and jumped into her arms. And I was all ready to go home with her. But then I remembered how if anyone other than Mom, Dad, or Christy came to pick me up, I was supposed to ask them the password. And so I asked. And she told me – “bowling ball.” She was just testing me to make sure I would remember that little trick. She gave me a piece of gum as a reward.
88. At my wedding she dressed all in green. She called beforehand to be sure that her outfit matched the color scheme.
89. Whenever we went to visit her in Reedsport I’d watch for that big pole on the hill that meant we were just a few minutes away from the house, and then I’d yell, “We’re in Reedsport!”
90. That last year at Christmas, I made her something special. I stitched a pillow with her wedding monogram on it. I really expected it to pass up whatever she got me, not that I cared. But she completely outdid herself this year. She only got me two presents, a record low as far as numbers were concerned. But the first was a wall ornament made of metal callas. How did she even know I love callas so much? I only had a couple of them at the wedding and she’d never been to my house to see all the calla decorations. I asked her and she just said she knew. She picked up on it somewhere. The second gift was a ring my grandpa gave to her thirty years ago. It’s her trademark style – several little diamonds and dark sapphires in a huge setting. Honestly, I never liked her taste in jewelry. And yet this ring is so beautiful. She said she wants it to stay in our family. If I have a daughter, I’m supposed to give it to her. Which I will. If there isn’t a baby girl in my future, then my son will get it and give it to his wife or daughter.
91. You know, it’s ironic. Biologically, she’s not my grandma. My dad adopted me. Legally, she’s my grandma. But she would have had every right – especially when she met me, before I was legally a Wolfe, to say, “That’s not my granddaughter. I don’t have a granddaughter. My son married a woman who already had a child. If anything, she’s my stepgranddaughter.” But she immediately accepted me, and so did everyone else in that family. It never occurred to me until I was late into my teens – “Hey, you know what? I share no genetic link at all with these people.” Weird.
92. After my parents divorced, my mom moved to Reedsport to be near her. Her former in-law. It was a big deal in pop culture when Jennifer Aniston stayed in touch with Brad Pitt’s mom after the divorce, remember? Well what if Jennifer Aniston had kids, and moved closer to Brad Pitt’s mom so she could babysit? That’s what my mom and my grandma did. And my grandma babysat, every day, starting at just about five a.m. And picked us up after school and kept us so that my mom could work. My dad wasn’t even okay with my mom’s new career, and my grandma kept us kids to accommodate it.
93. When she was dying, my grandpa said this, not knowing I was listening:
“I told God,
‘Lord, this is so hard.’
And He told me,
‘I know. I had to do it to My Son.’
So I replied,
‘But it was easier for You, God, because You were planning on resurrecting Him.’
‘You don’t think I’ll do the same for your wife?’”
94. She doesn’t know – or maybe she does – but she named me.