On the third finger of my left hand sits my wedding ring. Except it’s not really mine. It’s my grandmother’s. Well. My Busia’s. I’m Polish and called the only grandparents I knew Busia and Dziadzia.
I have many fond memories of my grandparents. They lived on a lake and my brother and I spent many weekends there as children. Fishing off the dock. Tubing behind the pontoon boat since it was faster than the speed boat. Running around the large yard with trees that grew at 45 degree angles and swinging from the old tire swing.
And, of course, sleeping in the best hammock in the world.
We lost Dzia when I was 11 to lung cancer. I remember it vividly if I try but I often don’t. I’d rather focus on the good memories rather than the eight months we watched him decline in health when I was old enough to understand but young enough to believe in miracles. His death shook all of us but none worse than my Busia.
Busia and I were separated by many years and often many miles. We didn’t see eye to eye on anything. If I cut my hair she got annoyed. If I grew it out she got annoyed. If I didn’t like a particular food she told me I was wrong. If I told her off for calling my mother Mitrell instead of Michele – which mom hated – she scoffed at me.
She passed away a year ago this month.
She stayed with us for 14 years after Dzia died. I can’t imagine how but I’m glad she did. I had enough time with her to realize we are exactly the same.
I have her smile. I have her sass. I have her speak-my-mind-and-apologize-later attitude. And, I have her wanderlust.
She was a world traveler. We don’t have an exact country count since my grandparents were horrible record-keepers, but they went everywhere. She worked only to have “fun money” so they could go. After they retired they had a travel agency where they were their own best customers. She always wanted to go somewhere, see something, get out of the ordinary – or just go to Vegas for a weekend of penny slots.
She traveled until she couldn’t. Then she traveled in her memories until she traveled peacefully away from us.
So now, she travels with me. On this little gold band I wear on my left hand.