Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Goodbye, Grandma

My beloved grandmother died early Saturday morning. I didn't write about it yesterday because, truth be told, the reality hadn't yet sunk in. And even though I was there with her, holding her hand when she slipped away, I still can't quite believe she's gone.

She was 93 years old and, for a 93-year-old, strong as an ox. In fact, she was out working in her garden -- probably her greatest source of joy, aside from the library books that she devoured like chocolates -- two days before she died. It was the first time in her life that she'd ever been in the hospital for anything other than giving birth.

She was one of a brood of kids born to Swedish parents and raised, somewhat inexplicably, in an Irish neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. She was stuck for too many years in an awful marriage and raised four children, less than perfectly by her own admission and theirs. I think she was just trying to get by herself. But once she was finally free of her miserable marriage, she was able to take off her emotional armor and open up. It was thrilling to hear her find her voice at last.

She had six grandkids and six great-grandkids who she doted on. She adored her roses, made better use of a library card than anyone I have ever known (her love of reading was probably the greatest gift that she passed down to the three generations of women that followed her), and gobbled candy like a child.

Her mind was sharp until the very end, and she was the only 93-year-old I know who could comfortably surf the internet and pepper her loved ones with email. In fact, she sent me a message a week or two ago, gently teasing me for featuring a $15 wax apple on this blog, when she had a whole bowl of wax fruit that had been purchased for a dollar. She loved Frank Sinatra and she always served lima beans with dinner, and I always think of her when I eat them, or hear him. I miss her terribly already.

I felt incredibly loved by her. I hope with all my heart that she knew how very much she was loved, too.

26 comments:

kelly said...

What a beautiful tribute. Based on your words here, I feel certain your grandma knew how much she was loved.

I'm so sorry for your loss.

Kelly said...

i'm so sorry, Leah. what sweet words you wrote about her. it's clear she knew how you felt. you and your family are in my thoughts...

Kelli said...

Leah, you'll be in my prayers. My grandmother passed away last year (her 91st birthday would've been yesterday, actually), and I still think about her quite a bit. Some little memory will just pop into my head, and I'm so thankful for that. Sounds like you have plenty of great memories that'll pop into your head, too. *hugs*

Kelli said...

By the way, how weird that your only comments so far are from three Kelly/Kelli's!

Emily said...

I'm sorry for your loss, she sounds like a wonderful woman! I'm very glad she was able to find herself later in life and to be able to share that and all her love with her family. You'll be in my thoughts and prayers.

iloveupstate.com said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.

I'll bet she's driving around with my Grandma in her powder blue Buick listening to Billy Idol (an awkward favorite of my Grandmother's).

Keep the happy memories close.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry for your loss. My heart and prayers go out to you and your loved ones.

~fina

girl meets glamour said...

So sorry to hear that Leah!!

~Kate

Porcelain said...

Oh Leah, I'm so sorry to hear of your Grandma's passing!!! She sounds like a wonderful, wonderful woman!

bill said...

My thoughts & prayers are with you & your family Leah! Grandmothers have such an influence on our lives, people don't always realize that but you definitely did.

Pigtown-Design said...

Leah... all my sympathies. You're in my thoughts.

Pencils said...

My condolences, Leah. Your grandmother was obviously a very special woman.

corine said...

I'm so sorry to hear. She seemed like a lovely person

alison said...

Your grandmother must have been a wonderful woman and I am so sorry for your loss of her. I don't know if it is possible for any one to know how much she is loved, but I am certain, your grandmother had a pretty good idea.

lotta said...

What a wonderful tribute to an amazing woman. Warm wishes and kind thoughts.

Mandy Lou said...

So sorry to hear your news. That was a beautiful tribute.

Betty said...

So sorry about your grandma. She sounded not unlike mine. Your description of her is lovely and sweet. My kind of lady, a gardener and library-goer.

karey m. said...

such an achingly truthful and beautiful tribute.

read it three times.

my regrets on your loss.

Malton Moms said...

What a wonderful tribute Leah. You truly understood your Grandmother's life and legacy, with all its trials and triumphs. My thoughts are with you. Take care.

Barb McMahon said...

I'm so sorry Leah.

It's always so hard to say good-bye to those we love.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and memories of this inspiring woman with us.

Happy Hotelier said...

What a wonderful tribute.

You must be happy having been her grandchild.

Jennifer said...

What a lovely memorial. Your grandmother must have been an incredible woman. Please take the wishes and prayers of this stranger from the web. As sad as it is to lose someone so important, it would be even sadder to have never had that person in one's life.

Jana Souza said...

Leah, I am sorry for your loss but so glad you had such a warm and fruitful relationship with a wise grandmother; those relationships are priceless. warmth and support, jana

Pippi said...

Leah - what a beautiful tribute - I loved reading it and am inspired by your grandmother's life. Thank you so much for sharing her story. My thoughts are with you. Patti

cardboard said...

Shucks, that was a beautiful tribute, Leah. Not as beautiful as your Grandma, maybe, but still and lovely.

Teal Chic said...

While I am new to your blog, I am so sorry to hear about your grandma. She sounds like a wonderful woman who not only blessed all those around her with her presence, but was fortunate to have such a loving family! Everybody should be so lucky to have a wonderful person such as your grandmother in their lives!

I'm sorry for your loss!!!

 

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