Yesterday, I lost my grandmother.
While my heart is heavy, and the tears flowed until I felt numb I have to believe that she is finally reunited with my grandfather who passed away nearly 11 years ago. In stark contrast to his sudden passing, Grandma held on to life until the very last moments. Forever strong-willed and determined to do things her way, she passed away on her own timetable with my mother by her side.
Born October 25, 1922, Grandma would have been 91 years old next week. She had a good long life. She often told me that she never dreamed she would be alive long enough to meet her grandchildren, and she was thrilled to get to know both of my girls.
Grandma was an only child, and she often remarked how she wished she had siblings. She loved to watch my girls play together, and it was a blessing to have her be part of their lives. She came to every birthday party, and we saw her weekly at family dinner night. She really knew my family. I still remember her father even though he passed when I was in Kindergarten, so I hope my daughter will also always remember her great-grandma.
Like many young couples of their generation, my grandparents were married soon after my grandfather returned from the war. They had two children — my mother and my aunt. They both loved the water and sailing. When I was young I stayed with them for two summers learning to sail. An experience I cherish.
More than anything else my grandparents loved to travel. Although she had not traveled since my grandfather’s passing, her home is filled with nick-knacks and photos — visual memories collected from around the world. Someday I hope my husband and I can travel the way my grandparents did.
Grandmothers are awesome, and mine was especially so.
My grandma’s signature dish was chicken paprikash. She used to make it with handmade spaetzles, and I regret never making it with her. I have her recipe (somewhere), but as much as I loved it as a girl — I wish I made it with her, just once. I do remember that she always told me not to do my hair until the spaetzles were done, otherwise it would surely fall.
Grandma loved to play cards, especially Gin Rummy, and she taught me to play sitting around the kitchen table during those summers I stayed with my grandparents. I haven’t played rummy in decades, but she also taught me how to play Solitaire. And thanks to computers that is a skill I haven’t lost.
A talented artist, my grandmother once created a bust of my grandfather — something I still marvel at. Her artistic skills were passed along to my aunt who became an architect, but I am afraid my own drawings are mere stick figures. Although I attribute my love for crafts to the only artistic skills she passed along to me.
A graduate of William and Mary, Grandma spoke fondly of her time in school and her sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta. Following in her path, my mother, aunt, sister and I all pledged KAT at the University of Florida. A generational connection that was as important to her as it is to me.
Like most children, to me Grandma was larger than life. She was always there with a hug, a smile and a sweet (she loved chocolate!). So seeing her frail frame lying in a hospital bed was heart breaking. Getting old just plain sucks.
This was Grandma a just a few months ago at the 4th of July – 90 years old and still just a big kid. This is how I choose to remember her, not the shadow I said goodbye to this week.
This day has been coming for a long time now, but that doesn’t make the heartache any less.
Grandma, we miss you fiercely.
Say hi to grandpa for us, we miss him too.