Five years ago today, my grandmother died. She was 86 years old and ready to go. She had lived through the deaths of her father, mother, one child, the aunt who raised her, a husband, a brother, a sister, multiple friends, assorted aunts/uncles/cousins and another husband. She was tired. But it was still hard to see her leave.
She got married for the first time when she was 21 to a man who she hardly knew. Thankfully, she picked well. He adored her and did everything he could to take care of her and make her happy. After the birth of their youngest, she went back to college at Temple, becoming the only mother on their suburban Philadelphia block to spend her days away from home. She eventually got her degree and became an English teacher at Ben Franklin High School.
There are still people in my building who remember her. Invariably, when I identify myself as her granddaughter, they say to me, “She was so beautiful and so smart.” And she was. She loved to read and was frequently found with a book in her hand and reading glasses perched on her nose. She wore falsh eyelashes everyday and was always perfectly adorned with gold pins and pearl necklaces.
More than her beauty or her smarts or her ability to survive, I remember her for her love. Love poured from her, bathing her family and friends in affection and appreciation. On the days when good or interesting or exciting things happen to me, I often feel a momentary pang, filled with the missing of her, that I can’t fill her in on the events of my life and bask in the love that would pour forth.
I wrote about her last year on April 4th as well. If you want the story of the day she died, it is there.