Monday, November 10, 2008

Grandmothers and First Loves

Miss me?

Thanks to everyone who passed along condolences and well-wishes in comments and emails. They were all very much appreciated. My grandmother was a week or so from 91, wasn't sick and suffering and lived in her house by herself up to the very end. When my mom and I arrived at her house we found piles of papers and photos she had already started to sort through so clearly she was ready to move on to the next thing. But while her death wasn't completely unexpected, it was still a sad weekend. Leaving the only house I remember her living in on Saturday night, knowing I probably won't ever be back there, was pretty tough.

Grandma and me.

As I've mentioned a time or two in this space, my first sports love was the Pittsburgh Pirates. As I've also mentioned here a time or two, my family moved from Pittsburgh to Birmingham, AL when I was a wee infant. For those of you who are rusty on your United States geography, Pittsburgh is oh, 700 or so miles from Birmingham.

Those of you who are my age or older will be able to reach back in the recesses of your memories and recall a time when every other household didn't have a dish on its roof and there were no sports packages you could order with one click of a TV remote. Professional sports leagues and teams didn't have websites and you couldn't pull up newspapers across the country on your computer screen. No, if you were a fan of an out-of-market team, you were on a deserted island, trying to drink up enough ESPN highlights to survive for another day, not always easy when your beloved team was small market and not the most prominent sports team in the city.

Unless you were me. Every couple of weeks, I'd open the mail box and find a video full of Pirates games or an envelope stuffed to capacity with things from the Pittsburgh papers: game stories, columns, player profiles and photos oh, man the photos. I fully believe I have every photo of Andy Van Slyke the Pittsburgh press ran between 1988 and 1994. It didn't matter if it was a full color, above the fold photo on the front page of the sports section or a one inch square photo buried on a back page somewhere, Grandma cut it out and shoved it in that envelope. The games were a couple of weeks old by the time I got them but I still watched them and the stories and columns were about events long over but I still read them. No, I devoured them. Grandma was not a sports lover herself but she knew her granddaughter loved them and that was enough for her to learn how to use a VCR and break out the scissors every morning. I didn't do a very good job of letting her know how much I loved getting those packages in the mail but I guess she probably knew because she went right on sending them.

You can't tell, but I'm wearing a Pirates watch that Grandma gave me.

So while Grandma didn't have much of a connection to hockey, the Sabres or this blog, (though she was, oddly enough, born in Buffalo) she was very responsible for nurturing the love of sports that brought me to the point where I spend a ridiculous amount of time writing a blog that I make no money off of whatsoever. She was also pretty convinced I was the best writer to ever put pen to paper so if you've ever read something here and thought, "Jeez, what in heaven's name would make this woman think I have any interest in reading this?" well, you can blame it on Grandma.

My other favorite thing about my grandmother, completely unrelated to all of the above but worth mentioning, is how much she loved reading. I know that my family is full of readers because of her. Long after I was an adult, working full-time, married and supporting myself, she always slipped me $20 in a bookstore. How awesome is that?

Bonus photo, found in Grandma's stuff this weekend:

Your intrepid blogger on her first birthday.

Back to hockey tomorrow, I promise.

13 comments:

porky said...

Great post, Heather. Your grandma would be proud.

dani said...

I hope everything is well with you and your family, Heather B. My great grandma just went into assisted living.

Nice post!

karen said...

I know that feeling of leaving a treasured home, knowing you'll never return...my heart goes out to you! It sounds like your Grandma lived right up to the last - the way I hope to. Good think we have the internet now, so you'll be able to check on the Pirates without her help...

amy said...

Aww, Heather. Thanks for sharing your memories of your grandmother with us.

Jill said...

Awww! I am sorry for your loss and my deepest sympathy for your family. Thank you for sharing...

Ryan said...

One of the things I love about sports is that it's not just about the games. The people that teach you why they matter, and the ones that keep you connected to what you grow to love matter much more than any box score ever will.

I hope things went as well as they can this weekend. We missed you on Saturday. One of these days we are going to have plenty to talk about...

Schnookie said...

Heather, this post is absolutely beautiful -- what a great tribute to your grandmother. I'm so sorry for your loss, and I'm so glad that you got to enjoy having such a wonderful grandmother during her lifetime.

Jonathan said...

Grandmas are the greatest. I remember doing math and playing cards with mine. And eating waffles.

You'll be in my prayers.

Pookie said...

Heather, thank you so much for sharing these memories with us! What a beautiful post! And again, I'm sorry for your loss.

frostee said...

i'm so sorry about your grandma...mine died in may so i know what it's like. but this post is really, really sweet and is a great tribute to her. she sounded like a great woman.

bjmcgwire said...

Heather, it has been said numerous times already but I think that this post is a great tribute to your grandmother. As I was reading it I got that warm & happy feeling remembering all oft the little things my own grandmother used to do for me. She passed away over 10 years ago now but yet I still remember all of them. Don't ever forget all of the special moments you both shared together and keep her in your heart.

S.A.M. said...

That post was adorable! How awesome and sweet of your Grandma to send you all the Pirates stuff. that's super great! Thanks for sharing the stories. She sounds like a wondeful woman.

Love the pics Heather. :) and welcome back.

Kate said...

Heather, this is an absolutely beautiful post. I'm so sorry about your grandma!