by Rev Nancy Knapp
Grammy and I had a special bond that seemed to develop naturally. Even my younger siblings noticed the uniqueness of our relationship. Looking back, I realize that my brother and sister, due to the challenges of our father’s Air Force career, didn’t share the same interaction with Grammy as I did being the oldest child. As a result, with my dad’s infrequent visits to his hometown of Strathroy, Christmas became a precious tradition for us.
Grammy, undeterred by the distances and the logistics of tracking down a family scattered across Canada, made it her mission to spend the holidays with us wherever we were stationed. She lived near my father’s siblings and could visit them anytime, but Christmas belonged to us. Juggling the logistics of space, my mother ingeniously solved the sleeping arrangements, and to my delight, I always drew the short straw and got to share quarters with Grammy. It became our unspoken understanding.
Our bond deepened through our shared love of music. I would often sing while Grammy played the piano! At the age of 14, during one Christmas visit to PEI, Grammy took me to see the Elvis Presley movie “Viva Las Vegas.” She sang and danced all the way up the aisle as we left the theatre after the show. Rather than being embarrassed by her performance, I was proud she was my grandmother. We followed it up with a Coke float in a local café, reveling in the joy of our unique connection.
The following year, as Christmas approached, we anticipated another visit from Grammy. However, a phone call in October shattered our plans. Edna was dealing not with gallbladder problems, as initially thought, but with terminal cancer. Traveling became too challenging for her, and we were left disappointed. Determined not to let this be a year without Grammy, my parents decided to head to Ontario to visit her for Christmas.
Grammy, now staying at my Uncle Joe’s house in St. Thomas, was frail and spent most of her time in bed or on the couch. The usual sleeping arrangement was disrupted due to her illness. When my aunt tried to explain the new bed allocations, Grammy insisted, “Nancy and I always share.” Despite her weakness, she wanted to maintain our tradition. So a cot was set up for me in her room.
Our last Christmas together was somber, with less talking but the same comforting presence. Grammy passed away on my dad’s birthday. January 13th at the age of 72. Grammy left behind a legacy of love and the cherished memories of our exceptional bond.