I miss my Grandma. On Wednesdays she would walk to our house, and in the summer I would watch for her to come down the hill about the time the noon whistle blew. My mom would wash her hair and set it in pin curls and they'd drink tea and chat while it dried. They'd make me my own pot of tea - probably 80% milk with half a cup of sugar but it kept me out of the way for a while.
Grandma never spent her change, she just collected it in a little coin purse. When I got older I had the job of counting it up an dividing it evenly between my brothers and I to use as pocket money for the week. Since we didn't get an allowance like many of our friends did, this was a real treasure.
Every Valentine's Day Grandma gave us a little heart-shaped box of candy, and for Christmas one of the Lifesaver Books. Each. Our friends were envious.
Grandma helped finance two cross-country family vacations, and camped from Buffalo to Yellowstone and back, and from Buffalo to Yosemite and back. She survived being lost in the Mojave Desert, exploring the Badlands, being surrounded by bears, drinking campfire coffee, and landing flat on her back (along with my Mom and Dad) when I got up from the kids' side of the picnic table and their combined weight took it over. Literally.
I asked her for a loan so I could do my first semester of college while I was still in high school. Without without a second's hesitation, she pulled out her purse and handed me $250, the entire price. She believed in me, always. When I told her I was planning on get married at 19, she said, "But I thought you were going to DO something!"
She died a year later, when I was in my second year of college, technically my freshman year, at the end of The Blizzard of '77. I came home for her funeral to snowbanks taller than the telephone poles, and we couldn't bury her until spring. Her death made me look hard at my traditional upbringing and my traditional life view. Her belief in me pushed me the rest of the way through college (two undergraduate degrees in three years) and ultimately medical school.
I believe she still makes flowers bloom here and there for me when I need them. We should all be thankful for our friends above.