Thursday, December 06, 2007

Remembering Grandma


Grandmothers are the gold standard of relatives. Their love is unconditional. Their generosity boundless. Their affection undying.

My grandmother was all these. As a kid I always looked forward to the week or two with my grandmother. While my grandfather gave me yard chores, my grandmother took me to the science center. She taught me cribbage. She was always up to Scrabble® even though she never seemed to win. And the baking. While Jewish grandmothers have the “eat, eat, eat” reputation, my grandmother could give any bubbie a run for her money.

During my college years she became logistically and emotionally my closest relative while my father was stationed in Italy. For Thanksgiving she became the default destination. When some medical tests made me too ill to attend class, she dropped everything and drove from Huntsville to Atlanta to care for me for a week. She was a nurse by training, but her care came coated in comfort. She cooked for me and became housemother for both me and my roommate.

Inspired by her hospitality, I embarked on a career of mooching Thanksgiving dinners from indulgent relatives. For many years I trekked annually on the busiest travel weekend of the year from Baltimore to Boston just to be with her and my New England relatives. These were more than holiday meal, they were a weekend of activities and traditions including candlepins and concerts and chili. When she became too ill to travel, I transferred my attentions to equally generous but much more geographically desirable relatives, but I still fondly recall the Boston Bacchanals as the ultimate family feasts.

It was just a week after Thanksgiving that my father called to warn me that she had taken a turn for the worse. The next morning he called to tell me that she had passed away in her sleep after 94 years of event-filled living. She was born while automobiles and airplanes were still in their infancy. In his tear-filled eulogy my father related that her family was the first in their town with an indoor flush toilet. As a newlywed she sent her husband off to fight World War II while she raised a family. My grandfather’s career both in and out of the military took them Florida to Alaska, from California to Massachusetts, and even to Japan. She had four children that are scattered up and down the eastern seaboard, but are knitted together with a bond stronger than love.

My grandmother was tireless and seemingly timeless. I never saw her age or grow tired. When I last saw her in July she had somehow become weak, frail, and forgetful. She was a shell of the vibrant woman that had watched me grow up, marry, and start a family of my own. Even in her infirmity she was cheerful and glad for the company.

Now that she is gone, her legacy is the love of her four children, six grandchildren, and eight great-grandkids. She lives on in each and everyone of us.


Anonymous said...

Oh, my. I'm so sorry for your loss. She sounds like she was a great old lady, in the truest sense of the word.

My own grandmother, my last living grandparent, is starting to show those signs and I'm not looking forward to losing that last link to my past.

I'm sure a lot of people's thoughts are with you.

yellojkt said...

Thanks Claude. As you can tell I haven't been up to much blogging. I want to thank all my virtual friends for their thoughts and condolences.

Impetua said...

A loving tribute to a great lady. I'm glad you all got to have her in your lives for so long.

Sue T. said...

My grandmother died a couple years ago at the age of 91 and even though she had lived a very long, happy life, losing her was still difficult and I continue to miss her. How I wish I could have told her about some of the things that have happened since she passed. So I can really sympathize with you. Even though we had so many years together, somehow it is never enough...

Anonymous said...

Gee, yello, that's tough. I'm sorry to hear it. I guess it's a kind of sappy thing to say, but... is she really gone, as long as you all remember her? From what you wrote here, it sounds like Peggy will be around for a long, long, time.

Needles said...

I can't think of a nicer thing to knit than a family, Yellojkt. What a lovely description of her life's work.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a beautiful tribute to a lady we all loved.

Elizabeth said...

What a beautiful picture of your grandmother. What a wonderful gift that you had her in your life for so long. Thank you for sharing your memories and again, I'm so sorry for your loss.

TBG said...

Beautiful, yello. I started crying when I saw the title of your post.

I'm glad you had a grandmother you love. You're a lucky guy and a lucky family.

Thumper said...

Alright, I got tears in my eyes but I'm also smiling. She sounds like she was an amazing woman. And her So beautiful.

I am truly sorry for your loss. It doesn't matter how old they are, when they go it hurts.

apricoco said...

While I'm not a frequent commenter, I had to write in and say that I'm sorry for your loss. Grandmothers are tough to lose, it's been 3 years, 10 months, and one day and I still miss her.

My thoughts are with you and your family.



The Mistress of the Dark said...

Your grandma was a great lady.

sending more hugs and condolences for you.

yellojkt said...

Again, thanks for all the sweet messages of support. The electronic world is full of so many great poeple.