Just one tiny year ago, because they do pass so fast, I was making a memory that would forever be cherished and worth more than I could know at the time. On sort of a whim, I planned a grand stay for my mom and grandmother, or Gramma as I knew her, at Walt Disney World. We stayed at the Grand Floridian and visited Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios on what was such a magical weekend. Just one month later, on December 15th, 2013, my grandmother passed away suddenly and unexpectedly but peacefully in her sleep. My mom since has referred to this trip as her last hurrah and our family is so glad the trip happened. My Gramma had wanted to go to Disney for a while and I’ll always have comfort in knowing we made it.
The Grand Floridian was the perfect setting for our three generation gathering. My Gramma loved fancy things, to get dressed up, to hear music play, Christmas and Royal Albert Old Country Roses china. The Grand was a lovely host, celebrating all of these things. Jim surprised us all with gingerbread Mickey cookies from the Grand gingerbread house. So sweet. When we got into our room, Gramma adored it. Especially the mirror pictured here. She thought it was so pretty. Luckily, a few months later I came across one of these mirrors and was able to buy it. It holds such a special place in my heart.
I planned to just relax and settle in that first afternoon but as soon as they arrived Gramma said “I’m going to Magic Kingdom,” with the excitement of a little girl who had just visited the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. And so we went. And it was glorious to be there with my mom and Gramma. And then we went to see the Osborne Lights that night. Gramma was absolutely delighted and couldn’t get over the lights. She loved Christmas with all her heart and it’s always been a big to-do in our family with lots of decorations at Gramma’s. I’m so glad I got to take her to see the lights and the Nativity scene.
At Hollywood Studios that night, for some reason, my Gramma said “I want to see John Wayne,” out of no where and I told her she would. Oddly enough he’s on the Great Movie Ride so her dream came true. I looked at her to see her reaction as I did so many times that day. Merely a smile came. She was so tired. Gramma worked hard and was very active right up until the end of her days but Disney can tire the best of us.
My grandmother loved fine dining. My mom is quite the opposite, especially when she’s at Walt Disney World. She just wants to go on all the rides and eating takes a backseat. I thought Be Our Guest Restaurant would be the perfect combination of what everyone wanted and it was.
On our second day at Magic Kingdom, we had a wonderful full day. One unforgettable highlight was Gramma telling me things about the World’s Fair in the It’s a Small World line. Then Gramma was ready to go around sunset. I knew she would love to see the castle all lit up for Christmas and tried to stall so that would happen. She wanted ice cream that day so as we gravitated toward Main Street I offered to get her some. We sat in those seats that were down by the water, but aren’t there any longer, and had such a wonderful memory. A bit more time had passed but not enough. We started to walk out and when we were in the middle of Main Street I annoyed again. “Can’t we just wait and see the castle lights? The lights will be on in just a few minutes and we can just sit where we were to wait for them.” It worked. I got Gramma to stay and see the lights. She was glad I pestered her into it. She loved it.
I hope just a month before my final days I will have all my wits and independence and have an incredible adventure just like my Gramma did. My grandmother made my childhood, and life overall, a magical one. She showed love in the way only a grandma can and made me know I was precious and cherished endlessly. I will pray for, and be thrilled to receive, even a fraction of my Gramma’s zest for life and ability to own a room.
I’m so thankful that some of our last memories together were some of our greatest.