On Friday we received news that my grandma was in the hospital. An enormous brain aneurysm had burst, leaving her breathing on her own but unresponsive. On Saturday morning I drove over to Ohio and was able to spend some time with family and to say goodbye to grandma. On Sunday evening grandma passed away.
My grandma lived during some of the iconic periods of history – as a child of the Depression, a nurse in World War II, a 50s housewife. She lost her fiancee to the war and then married my grandfather, whom she had known since grade school. She was model-gorgeous as a young girl – long legs, wavy hair, brilliant smile. She could grow anything and saved quite a few plants that my mom just about killed. Her secret ingredient in potato salad was vanilla ice cream, which you’d think would be weird but made it divine. She collected beach glass and lucky stones and driftwood. She called the couch the “davenport.” She made great kuchen (coffeecake) for breakfast. She loved to read. She was fiesty and independent – shortly after grandpa died she told me that she had climbed up on the cottage roof to re-tar a few shingles and “don’t tell anyone.” She loved politics and being involved in the community. She volunteered during elections and in her church choir. She loved to smack our butts and kiss our cheeks. She was very proud of her family. She had a quick, sharp wit. When we left the island on the ferry she would stand on the dock and do the biggest kisses and waves until we were too small to see anymore (this, more than anything, is how I still picture her, and what best encapsulates her spirit and love).
Over the last few years grandma slowly slipped away as Alzheimer’s overtook more and more of her memory. But she still had her huge, gorgeous smile. She was a beautiful lady and I wish there had been time for more conversations together, both as adults. I’ll miss her very much.