Texas girl in the middle of Kiwiana

Amy Boatman

Home / Essays / 2006 / December

My Granny

I have been told my whole life about my granny running to put me in my crib when she saw my parents' headlights and then telling them she hadn't been holding me all night. My first memory is of lying on the floor of my bedroom crying hysterically because she and grandpa had just left. For as long as I can remember she has been my favorite person. Being the only girl in the family, she always tried to dress me up in frilly dresses. Hat, gloves, tights, frilly dress, frilly socks, patent leather shoes, the whole bit. I hated wearing that stuff. So, as much as she wanted me to dress like that, she did what I wanted instead. She bought me a pair of red cowboy boots, red jeans, a blue shirt and a red vest. I even had a red hat and cap pistols. I loved that outfit. I have always loved that she never tried to fit me into a mold but just let me be how I wanted to be.

I remember sitting on her lap with my ear against her chest listening to her talk to Meme. I don't know what they were saying but just the sound of her voice made me feel so safe and loved. She loved me more than I even know probably. And she spoiled me rotten too. She could never so no to me. And I did exploit it a little when I was much, much younger.

I was so blessed to get to be there for her these last five months since grandpa died like she was there for me my whole life. As much as they fought when he was alive, she felt his absence immensely. She was never the same after he died. I got to spend Thursday morning with her. She hadn't been able to go to the beauty parlor for a while since she couldn't drive and I worked Monday through Friday. But Thursday I was going to work late so I could come in late. I told her to make an appointment as early as possible on Thursday. I figured 8:30 or 9. It was for 7:30 that morning. Only for her would I have gotten up at 5am. So I got to her house at around 7am. She told me she had seen grandpa walking from the garage into the living room and then into the kitchen just like he always used to do. I think maybe he came for her. Anyway, we got to the beauty parlor and all her old friends were there. She hadn't been able to do her usual Thursday morning appt for over a year so she hadn't seen them for quite a while. They coo cooed over her and told her how sorry they were that Roy had passed. She was the center of attention which she always loved. We went to breakfast at Denny's and she was so happy to have her hair looking pretty. She was always worried about being a burden and said so for the umpteenth time that morning. I told her that everyone who knew me knew she was my favorite person and I was so glad I got to do stuff for her.

I left her that morning sitting on the couch. I never thought it would be the last time I would see her. When she was a young woman, she was gorgeous. She was what you think of when you think of a 40s fashion plate. I keep having this vision of her hopping up off the floor, 20 years old again and running off to be with those she's lost over the years. My life is never going to be the same without her. There will always be this big gaping whole where she used to be. But the measure of my pain is also the measure of my love for her. She was the best grandmother any kid could ever ask for. She always used to tell me how special I was and how I brightened up her day. Well, she was special too and any day I got to talk to my granny was a brighter day for me too. I loved her so much and will miss her everyday.

My Grandpa

Roy Boatman was my grandpa and I loved him very much. I was his only grandchild as well as the only girl in the family. My Granny told me that when he would baby sit me she was always so impressed that he would change my diaper and everything. Turns out he was going to the lady next door and getting her to do it. My first memory of him and my Granny is when I was maybe 3 years old. They had just left me in Dallas with my parents and gone back home to Austin. I was lying on the floor crying hysterically. I mean lying on the floor kicking my feet in a huge fit crying. When my parents divorced, they stayed as close to me and my mom as before. My mom was really happy that they were such a huge part of my life. They would come down to Marble Falls and pick me up most weekends so I could stay with them. Grandpa would sit and play games with me for hours on end. We would play Monopoly and Crazy Eights and a bunch of other games I don't remember now. He seemed perfectly content being with me. He taught me how to whistle and I learned to do it well. He and I would whistle old songs together, he would whistle the first part and I would finish it. All my life people have commented on how well I whistle and I always say with a smile my Grandpa taught me. He was the smartest man I knew even though he didn't have a lot of formal schooling. He read so much and taught himself how to do so many things. He loved to learn.

He was so proud of his military service. He was always showing me his newest newsletter from the ship he had been on, the Wren, or something from a book about it. He told me so many stories over the years about his shipmates and the many pranks they pulled. He told me I don't know how many times about being in Tokyo Bay when the surrender was accepted. He would show me old pictures of that time and was still able to name everyone in the picture. His time in the war was bittersweet for him. It was a horrible experience on one hand but an incredible adventure on the other. It was one of the most important times in his life.

By the time I became a teenager, our relationship went a little sour. We were both so stubborn and we often locked horns. Even though we argued and fought, we never stopped loving each other. In one particular instance, he apologized to me for something and Granny said she thought I was the only one he had ever apologized to. As I got older, our relationship got easier.

I'm not sure where this started but we started calling each other by little names. He would call me a turkey and I would call him a titty baby. When he'd lean over and say turkey and I'd say titty baby, he'd laugh that deep laugh of his. I also liked to call him an old coot and he just loved that. He liked to call me his favorite grandbaby and his least favorite too. He didn't always know how to say he loved you so he expressed it by picking on you sometimes. He liked being funny.

The last time I talked to him was last Thursday. He sounded just as jovial and upbeat as he always did when he talked to me. Sometime on Sunday, he just went to sleep and didn't wake up. He was lying on his side looking like he always did when he slept. I can't think of a better way to go. When we were going through his wallet looking for ID, the only picture in there was of me when I graduated high school. He also saved cards I had sent him over the years and in the bottom of one drawer was my kindergarten class picture. I had no idea he was that sentimental.

He has been a constant in my life since I was born. I can't imagine going to their house and him not being there. I will miss him so much. I'll miss his laugh and even him picking on me. I'll miss him showing me his most recent woodworking creation or telling me another story about his war years. Most of all I'll just miss knowing he's there if I need him. I was blessed to have had him in my life for so long.