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I've been trying to think of a way to write a nice little tribute to my grandmother, but every time I think about it, I get overwhelmed and have to stop. So I just decided to do some random stream of consciousness writing here about her, to get these things out of my head.

I was born on Memaw's birthday, which has always been so special to me. She always made a point to take me out for a birthday lunch, just the 2 of us when I was growing up. We talked every year on our birthday, even when I moved away, and it's been weird for the last few years with her being in the nursing home not being able to call her to wish her a happy birthday. It'll be weird this year without her.

Memaw made the BEST chicken and dumplins and unsweet tea I've ever had. I use her dumplins recipe when I make them, and while mine are good, they just aren't the same.

I wear the "Mother of the Bride" dress that she wore in my aunt Linda's wedding for the character of April May in "Impress These Apes." I have a lot of her old dresses and jewelry, and it is so special every time I wear them.

Christopher and I loved spending the night over at her house. At night, she and papaw would let Buffy (the parakeet) out of his cage and fly around the house, which was the MOST EXCITING THING to us. Papaw would listen to records, and memaw would watch Lawrence Welk (my favorite line ever from the show: "Well, there you have it. A nice group of pretty good dancers.") The next morning, we would watch Saturday morning cartoons in the living room and wrestle ("Germ Caterpillar" [catapiller] and "I Bet You Can't Break Through This Fort" were the best to play at her house) and she would make us either french toast or toast with orange marmalade.

Memaw played the organ at the church we grew up in. It was so fun running up to her after each service for a hug, and on rare special occasions, we would get to sit next to her during the service in front of the whole congregation. She taught us piano, but my focus was dance, so in our lessons that were supposed to happen before my ballet class, I would often convince her that I need to rest before class instead of take lessons. She almost always let me.

Memaw and I shared another bond--hyperhidrosis. Mom said that when I was a baby, only a few weeks old, my feet would turn bright red and I would cry and cry. Memaw suggested once that she put socks on my feet, and that made me stop crying. She knew then and there that I had it.  Hyperhidrosis is such a horrible condition, and it helped that I had a family member so close to me who knew what it was like to not be able to touch people, hold paper, use a pencil, etc. When she played piano (and when I did as well) or organ, she would leave little droplets of water on the keys, and I would always clean them up for her after the service.  When I discovered the surgery that would later change my life (for which I am still forever grateful to Shelly Gossman for finding for me and sending my way), Memaw was so supportive of me, telling me that I had to do it, and she would if she could, also. The decision to have that surgery was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life, and I think she was happy that it made me able to live a more normal life.

Memaw was so supportive of me when I decided to move to Chicago, both emotionally and financially. I struggled there for a few years at the beginning, when I was working 3 jobs, in classes and doing shows, and she would always send along a little check right when I needed it most. I tried to keep her updated on my shows and goings on, and when we cleaned out her house a few years ago, I found every card or letter that I ever sent her. She never threw them out.  In the cards that she would write me, she would always apologize for her "chicken scratch" handwriting.

This is a random memory, but my brother and I, while being best friends, fought like cats and dogs growing up. Whenever I would say that I hated him (something I would never ever say today), she would just repeat the word "hate" over and over again to make us realize how stupid and mean it was. "Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate." and eventually it would get me to admit that I didn't hate him, I was just mad at him.

When we found and scanned all the photos of memaw as a child and young girl, it offered a glimpse into a whole world that we didn't know existed. She looked so exotic! I've had some friends tell me that I look a lot like her, and I think that is the nicest complement.

At the funeral, the pastor talked about how Memaw always brought out the best in people and wanted others to be happy. It was neat to hear that, as that is the kind of life that I strive to have as well. I want my friends to succeed, and I want to help them in whatever way I can for them to be happy. I like to think that most of us in my family is like that, but it was nice to hear it in words and know that I am following in the footsteps of such a great lady.

At the funeral, I was reminded of our sweet little family, and just how many have passed on before us. Memaw Burns, Papaw Bane, Lollie, Papaw Reid, and of course, my Dad. Every time we lose someone new, I miss my Daddy more and more. It was weird not having Christopher and Katie there at the services, and I know they had a hard time not being there as well. But sweetly, there was also a melding of both sides of the family. Susan, my Dad's sister, sat with the family, and their brother Carl was a pall bearer. At the funeral home, Linda had put together a slideshow of old family photos, and there was one of Memaw, Papaw, Mom, Christopher (who was holding his koala Eukie), Dad and me (who was holding my blanket Dird)--it was so quintessentially US, and it really showed just how much over the years the family has changed. I am so grateful that I was blessed with the family that I was blessed with. They all taught me a lot, and I am who I am because of them. 

I am so honored that Helen Juanita Burns Bane was my grandmother. She will certainly be missed.

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What wonderful, hilarious, beautiful memories. Love. Love. Love. Love.