This story is near and dear to my heart. I want you to tell you a story about Ella. She was my kind and loving granny, my dad’s mom. She loved my sister and I with all her heart and soul. She bragged about us she kept us looking pretty, and she gave us dolls and wigs and make up to dabble in, and my cousins from the other side of the family were treated like they were her grand children too, she played games with us, she taught me how to shuffle cards, play solitaire – long before the computer version, she’d take us shopping, pay us money for getting the Price Right when watching the game show, and for guessing the words before the letters turned on wheel of fortune- I could go on and on.
Granny had the best personality and the smile daddy, my sister, my kids and I have all originated with her. I also inherited her joy, love and passion, and 1 other thing I got her body type. I joked most of my adult life that my sister got my moms side of the family’s tiny little frame and I got the meaty thick side of the family. Which then turned from a joke to a moment of terror when I realized Ella died way to young due to health complications with diabetes and obesity. I’d give her her insulin shots, dole out her pills for all her different ailments, and then wait for the drugs to kick in and then get her to tell us all kinds of stories about her child hood. As we got older she continued to get bigger, on my high school graduation, she came to Aurora to watch me graduate, but she had to walk with a cane so support her weight. By the time I had my first baby – not too long after graduation, we got a call from the hospital saying she wasn’t going to make it and my mom got me on the first plane to Chicago so I could say goodbye, and I desperately needed her to meet her great grand baby named after her son who was snatched from us at age 35. My sis and I were the only grandchildren from her only child, who had been gone for 11 years already.
When I arrived in Chicago, I remember seeing her hooked up to the machines, (heart attack this time) and hoping the Dr.’s would let me bring my little guy in there for her to meet her was scary and sad. She did live, but eventually she got so large my grandfather had to move her to a nursing home at the Dr.’s request because he was a skinny old man and if she ever fell, he’d never be able to get her up. My daughter got to meet her when she was about 9 months old, and at the time, my baby girl was not the most friendly child, but when we went to the nursing home she sat in my grandmother’s lap (she was now in a wheel chair with an amputated leg due to complications with her diabetes) and laid on her and hugged her tight, I couldn’t believe it, Ella and my baby girl connected and it was truly love at first sight.
The day the world mourned over Princess Diana’s sudden accidental death is the same day my sister and I called the hospital – (as her next of kin we were able to get information over the phone to find out how her quick medical procedure they performed went), and the nurse informed us “She died on the table, in a harsh tone.” We cried and wailed, because we couldn’t believe it. Grandpa had died in his sleep a few months before and that was it, no more paternal family, no more granny, no more 2 hour talks on the phone, no more love.
If we would have known what I know and have proven now: make some life style changes, eat better, be active, and that you can gradually drop the excess weight, not matter how big you are, we could have had more years with her. She was a little older than my own mom is right now when she passed. She was so big, I just figured that’s the way she had to be. There was no show like the biggest loser on to show it could be done no matter how big you are. The terror –of leaving a legacy of obesity to my family was a real threat, but I changed the game, and got control before it got too bad. At some points I too thought I was a lost cause, that I let myself go and there was no turning back.
I miss my granny, so much, but we took valuable life lessons from her on so many levels and that’s what it’s all about right?
In the words of India Arie from one of her melodious verses “There’s a blessing in every Lesson” (no clue what song that’s from, but that’s real talk right there)
Take care of your loved ones that may need your help and take care of yourself so you don’t break anyone’s heart unnecessarily.
Here’s to Ella (gone too soon), good health, fitness, and being JOYFUL!