“I know I’m older now. But sometimes you just want your grandparents back, you know?”

So went the conversation at fifth grade parent teacher conference yesterday. Erin’s teacher, who was also Nicholas’ teacher his fifth grade year, lost a grandparent a few weeks ago. I adore this teacher; she treats each of my kids like the unique little beings they are, and she encourages them in a way that is at once motivating and calm. But at this conference, what struck me was the missing.

Of course I blinked back tears. I’ve been missing her lately. Especially today, because today is her birthday. When I woke up this morning, thoughts turned to years past, when I’d arrange for a flower delivery to her little apartment. She once told me that all flowers are beautiful, but she especially loved the uniquely colored roses I’d sometimes send. Coral and peach, specifically, because they’re unique. Different. Special.

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As I took my first few sips of coffee I thought about how she always had a pot brewed, and how she drank it all day long. She didn’t care about fancy beans or how dark the roast was; she was happy with Folgers. I thought about how, as I’ve grown older, I’ve forgotten how she was before she moved to that little apartment and rarely moved from her chair. I thought about how, on this first birthday after her death, it would be appropriate to remember her; I wish I could say I had to sift through grand thoughts and big plans. I didn’t.

She wasn’t a flashy or an extravagant person. She lived simply, took care of anyone she could and made turning the other cheek look more like an art form than an act of self preservation. She loved to talk. She loved to just sit and look at people; as we talked, she smiled the kind of smile that twinkles through the eyes and beams through the skin. Sweet smiles. In the end, toothless smiles. Radiant, beautiful, genuine smiles.

I celebrated her today with comforts that remind me of her. I prayed the rosary, using the blue crystal rosary she gave me so many years ago. I stopped at the grocery store and chose a bouquet peppered with yellow roses tinged with pink. I baked bierocks for dinner, thinking with each knead of the dough how many rosary beads her fingers touched in her 92 years and how many prayers she prayed for those she loved and those she never knew.  I opened a large can of green beans to make green bean dumpling soup, knowing that because I’m the only one who will eat it I’ll be having it for meals the rest of the week, and remembered how she once told me that the longer it sits the better it tastes. I dropped dumplings in boiling water, thinking with each one how, no matter what might have been going on in her life at the moment I’d call to say hello, she’d always say thing the same thing after I said ‘hi Grandma.’

Lisa. Oh, my hatzya. How I miss you.

And I wished that I had just one more opportunity to say ‘I miss you too.’