I owe a lot of my fondest memories to my grandma. My parents always loved travelling, so my brothers and I would stay at my grandparents' place for weeks at a time throughout our childhoods. There was always this sense of wonder when you would enter their place; books of all sorts, from finance to history, filled the shelves. A kaleidoscope sat on their living room table, almost begging to be viewed by youthful eyes. My grandpa always had to be on top of current technology, so he would have a sleek, modern computer in his den (which I used almost exclusively to play Fallout 2) as well as the latest television set in the basement where we would watch laserdiscs of Airplane and Laurel & Hardy. Yes, he even had a laserdisc player. He was, and still is, one of the greatest individuals I've known. Brilliant, passionate, and with a great sense of humour. He is what all people should aspire to be, in my humble opinion.
My grandma is a bit of a different story. She never read as much as my grandpa, nor was she on top of tech trends, but that makes no difference to me. She would socialize with her friends in town, play them in golf, travel the world with them, doing all the things old people like to do. She was kind, proper, and stubborn as a mule. She also loved Mario.
Some time in the mid-eighties, an NES was introduced into my dad's household. By this time, my dad would have been around twenty. He was ready to get married to a wonderful woman, so he wasn't in the house, you see. This was for my grandma. She would spend hours a day playing Super Mario Bros., and she was damn good at it too. She played so much that she would get blisters on her fingers like the end of that Beatles song that made a guy named Charles go mad. Every time we could, we would try to play Mario with grandma. She would move the controller with her jumps so she could get the extra boost, then curse every time she fell into a pit.
In Christmas of 2001, there was a sizable present under the tree. Was it a Gamecube? Did it come with three fantastic games? What's with the questions? Yes, YES, and I don't know, I'm running out of steam. Super Monkey Ball, Luigi's Mansion and Super Smash Bros. Melee were all in this package, one that was NOT FOR CHILD ROCKETKNIGHT. No. It was for my grandma. You'd think with the added complexity of the third dimension that she would struggle in a new gaming environment but NOPE. She casually mentioned to me some time after that she made it to the end of Luigi's Mansion. She would play me in Super Smash Bros. (as Mario, of course) and win. To be fair to my younger self, I was seven, but she still beat me. When we both got Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, we would share tips to help each other out in tough spots of the game. Staying at my grandparents' place was one of the events that I would look forward to the most. I didn't just get to hang out with two people I loved, I was able to play with my oldest friend in the world.
About eight years ago, she was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. This, we later found out, was actually Lewy body dementia. She would sway back and forth, she would hallucinate. It's a disease that slowly works its way into someone's mind until they're nothing but mush. To try to help her, my grandpa brought out the Nintendo so she might remember her favourite past time. She couldn't play, but she still had a grin on her face. Over time, we just waited. There were so many moments where we thought we had lost her, but she would always come back. And she would come out dancing, too. Her caretaker would put on music and dance with her when she had the energy. She even had rhythm. She couldn't remember names or where she was.
But she could dance.
Today, I lost my grandma. I never had the chance to say goodbye to her, but I know that she wouldn't have understood it anyway. Today I lost one of my best and oldest friends. That's not what I want to think about, though. Today, I'm going to remember a warm spring morning. I was awake in bed, but I was pretending to sleep so I could get out of going to school. I heard my grandma coming into the room, saying "Oh, I don't want to wake him. He looks so peaceful there". I'm going to remember trying as hard as we could to beat Mario together. These memories will always be there. These aren't meant to be forgotten, they're meant to be shared. They're meant to inspire me into being a better person.
I think I'm going to play some Mario. And I think I might dance, too.