Over 80 years.
If I counted the days right (including leap years), my Grandma Raynor lived exactly 29,237 days. Over 1.7 million hours on this Earth.
Over 31 years.
If I counted those days right, that would be 11,041. That was how many days our lives crossed paths.
Not every one of those days was a day we saw each other, but her influence on my life has been felt in every single one of those days.
I can remember her being a part of my first baseball experience. I don't remember who else went. It was a Cubs game - I want to say about 1987 or 1988 - and I believe my favorite player at the time (Andre Dawson) hit a home run in that game. I remember having a great time and getting to experience it with my grandma.
From there, she was around for just about every major life event. First Communion, all my birthdays, graduations (I believe junior high, high school and college). Would have attended a Bar Mitzvah too if I was Jewish.
And that's the key - she was there.
As a kid, you don't realize how much you value the idea of someone being there for your little league games, your events that aren't really memorable later in life except for the fact that you can remember the people who went to see you.
If there is someone who had a better sense of humor than my grandma did, especially for someone her age, I'd like to meet him or her. I've never met someone who was so easily able to make fun of herself, laugh at herself, as my grandma. Including myself, there have been three or four people who have had a Halloween costume based off of her, and she loved every minute of it.
Her laugh was infectious. You could make fun of her just as easily as she could make fun of you - and you knew it was out of love. In fact, it was something Jen just told me on the car ride back from the hospital as one of her first memories of my grandma and how she knew that I was a keeper - she could tell how much I loved my grandma based on her observations of our interactions that particular day.
I remember her knack for spending waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much on Christmas gifts (Sorry, I mean 'Santa'). Even at a young age, I knew we were getting spoiled way too much, yet she spent on her grand kids non-stop. We loved her for it, but I think most of us knew we had it too good. That's how grandma was.
It's weird to think that she's lived on her own without Grandpa for almost 17 years. The great thing in that time, however, is how much closer us grandkids (and probably even her own kids) were able to get to grandma.
Marilyn Raynor was an amazing woman, and I am honored that I was able to share the last moments of her life amongst our family. She was at complete peace when death came calling. That is the dream.
She was a strong woman, much stronger than I gave her credit for. She was never a woman who gave up, even in death. She beat death, but death just needed to set up a best of 3 - which of course she won easily.
I'll always remember my last exchange with her on a cold Sunday afternoon in March, saying and signing "I love you", with her signing it back. If there's a lesson to be learned from all of this, as you say goodbye to someone for a day or the night, try to make that last interaction a positive one. I will always remember this exchange fondly.
Thank you to all who have shown your concern and your love. I love you right back and wish you nothing but the best.