We called my great grandmother GG. When I was only three years old she taught me to read to her from the newspaper. I can still hear her voice and kind words every day when I’m with my own kids.
Dorothy Greenly was the most wonderful person I have ever met. She was always learning, always improving herself and her skills. GG had a carefree attitude and a musical laugh. She taught me everything I needed to know about being a proper lady- all while encouraging me to be true to myself.
She could make the most beautiful flower arrangements, and spent hours every summer trying to impart this skill to me. Every time I would hand her these mangled, misshapen heaps of silk – and she would just smile and find something nice to say. I never did get any better.
When I look back on her memories, I see a perfect lady. She was graceful, stylish and kind. She offered encouragement and patience. She was always the perfect hostess, and a wonderful mother and grandmother. She was also completely fearless.
The year she turned 90 she only had one wish – to go to Port Dover on her birthday. It was October, and Friday the 13th.
She had always seen pictures and heard stories about the bike rally in Port Dover. So naturally, she wanted to get a bike and ride in like the bad-ass grandma that she was.
She fell ill that year, and we couldn’t make the trip. Instead, we did everything we could to make her dream come true right where we were. We decked out our Keeping Room with all kinds of biker memorabilia. We turned up the tunes and dimmed the lights. We found a local cruising group and arranged for them to dress her in leathers, and then take her out for a ride.
The party that started after went well into the morning. GG was the last to leave, grinning from ear to ear in her leather jacket.
One day she informed me that for her 100th birthday- if she made it that far- she only had one wish. This time, she wanted add skydiving to her lifelong list of achievements. Of corse, she knew that I was terrified of falling – and was determined to cure me of it. She would not be talked out of it, saying only, “When I’m 100 years old, you’ll do as I say.”
She was right. It never mattered what she wanted to do – I was her partner in crime. She was the only person I loved to shop with. I used to pick her up for a surprise spree, getting her anything she wanted. It was the least I could do to buy her some art supplies or a sweater after all she’d done for me.
These visits with her were the only breaks I took in the week. I told myself I was just going there to cheer her up, but I know now that I gained just as much as she did. GG was my go-to, my best friend. She always believed in me – and inspired me to make her proud.
Not a day has gone by since she passed that I don’t think of her. In my weaker moments I draw on her strength. When I feel insecure, I remember how much faith she had in me. I know that because of her, I am a better person today.
I hope that wherever she is, she thinks of me too – and that she is proud of who I’ve become.