Saturday, August 30, 2014

My ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I was challenged by my sweet friend Lindsey Simmons to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. She later made it up to me with two pumpkin cupcakes which I did not share. I don't know if I will ever get around to actually dumping ice water on my head. Jason did it with the high school staff at our church in an over the top ridiculous way, very entertaining. And Coop did it in our back yard. We are donating money for research because I do want them to find a cure, but I just don't know if I will actually dump water on my head. And I don't know who I would challenge, because everyone I can think of has already done it. But it is important to me because this horrible disease has affected me personally.

My grandmother, Maree Cross, passed away from ALS in 1987. We were very close. As the oldest grandchild, we had a special relationship. Yes, I'll just say it. She spoiled me rotten. I spent many a night in her California king size bed, staying up past my bedtime playing Atari. She would always ask me right before I fell asleep what I wanted for breakfast. And it was usually the best cinnamon toast you've ever tasted. We would eat Hershey kisses and play Skip-bo. She taught me how to throw a bridge party, how to properly set a table and how to make peanut butter fudge. She introduced me to split pea soup.

My Memaw took me clothes shopping, buying way more than necessary. She had an oil painting made of me for her living room wall. My mom still has it. Its creepy. She loved to talk and I still remember how she would twist a piece of paper in her fingers while she talked on the phone. She would always have a Whatchamacallit candy bar waiting when she picked me up from school in her little sports car with no seat belts, or take me to Swenson's to get an ice cream sundae. We would sit outside and shell pecans or break the ends off of green beans. She had a birthday party for me where all the girls came dressed up, brought their dolls,  and we had tea and she taught us how to play Shanghai.

One of my favorite stories was when I was in 4th grade. She picked me up from school and I told her I wanted Tretorns. She asked what they were and I said I didn't know, but the other girls in school were talking about them. She picked up the phone and called her favorite department store and asked what they were. They were shoes. So we got in the sports car and drove directly there to get a pair with a turquoise swish. Did I mention I was spoiled?

She was President of the WMU at her church many years. And while sometimes, church was just what you did as a Southern Baptist lady, she also had a heart to serve missionaries and pray. She started the prayer ministry at her church and supported my grandfather as he served as deacon and in the media ministry. She worked hard.

She was diagnosed in January of 86 when I was in 5th grade and she died one year and two months later during spring break of my 6th grade year. She went down really fast. She took me shopping for back to school clothes in Aug. but by Christmas was confined in a wheel chair. I didn't see her much after that Christmas because it was too painful for me to see her. I do regret that. At the end, she couldn't move at all. But she would ask the ladies from the prayer ministry to bring her the prayer request list and tape it to the wall next to the bed so she could be praying. The day she passed away and my mom came home to tell me, I can still remember where I was standing in our kitchen. And I grabbed a sponge and started cleaning off the counters. I guess I clean when I am grieving? Even though we knew it was coming, I was devastated.

I remember her funeral like it was yesterday. The church was packed. She had touched many lives. Because it was spring break, I had spent much of the week with my friend Ashley while all the adults were taking care of things. And strangely I can remember what Ashley was wearing at the funeral. Isn't that weird? Ash and I had a great week and we were closer friends after that. She helped me grieve and tried to distract me from it all. I remember going back to my grandmothers house after the funeral and it was packed with people who felt sorry for me and pot luck food. And I quickly returned to Ashley's. Very overwhelming.

My grandfather passed away two years ago, and even though he was remarried, he was buried next to my grandmother. And even though I had learned later that she wasn't the easiest to live with, I was glad they were reunited.

I've been trying to decide what she would think about the ice bucket challenge. While I know she would be so grateful for all the money raised that will hopefully find a cure for this horrible thing, I can't decide if she would think the actual bucket of ice water on my head would be funny or improper. She had a little bit of both in her: Southern Baptist grandmother who had bridge parties and set correct tables mixed with a funny lady who drove a sports car with no seat belts and talked too much. That was my Memaw.



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