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Day 355: Grandma Bess

Couple of these people are just killing in in the bangs category. 
December 20th is the anniversary of my beloved Grandma Bess's death, and this year marks 10 years since she passed. I can hardly believe it's been that long. I remember the day vividly (especially that part where I was crying on my way home from work and almost caused a crash). Having celebrated her 95th birthday three months earlier, her death didn't come as a surprise to any of us, but that doesn't make suffering a loss like that any easier. 

I like to think Grandma and I were kindred spirits. I know she had a unique relationship with each of her 16 grandkids, but as the youngest one who lived close enough to visit often, she and I shared a closeness that made me feel so special. I spent more time with my other grandma, and love her so dearly as well, but I felt a different and special bond with Grandma Bess. 

We shared a love of reading and I delighted in her storytelling. She was the Stanley Public Library's librarian from as early as I remember and some of my most precious memories are spending time there while she worked. I still remember the mint green color scheme and the smell of old books in the small, downtown library. She definitely passed on her love of books, reading, and learning to me and I'm endlessly grateful for it. 

Christmas was Grandma's JAM. She absolutely delighted in having all (or most) of us there for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. An avid shopper, she often bought backup gifts in case the first give wasn't exactly right. The boys got flashlights almost every year, which became an endearing tradition. Her modest living room somehow managed to squeeze 20 or more for gift opening, and she always made a splendid meal. 

The rest of that side went to the Lutheran Church and our family to the Midnight Mass at the Catholic Church, but I loved it there just the same. We always sang "Angels We Have Heard on High" and the church was lit with candles. We woke up Christmas morning to Santa gifts on the downstairs steps and ate cinnamon bread and her own canned pears and peaches. Memories from those years all run together but are precious nonetheless. 

When we gathered on December 23, 2006, for Grandma Bess's funeral in Stanley, we all chuckled a little bit at how Grandma managed to bring us all together for one last Christmas celebration in Stanley. While we mourned, we cousins got together as adults for the first time in ages and shared drinks and fond memories. We sang "Joy To The World" to close her funeral and I can't sing it now without being so happy and so sad simultaneously. 

I know Grandma would have a few edits to make on my disjointed writing and JV-level grammar, but this will have to do for today, as my eyes are tearing up and her great-grandkids are grumping around looking for my attention! 

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