In Honor of My Grandmother November 17, 2008Posted by Onely in Food for Thought.
Tags: friends, grandmother, memorials, onely, service
Last Wednesday, November 5th, my Grandmother died at the age of 95 (& 11/12ths — she would’ve turned 96 next month!). Before she moved to Kansas City (where I grew up) after my grandfather (who I never met) died, she had lived in or around Kirksville (northeast) Missouri her whole life. At the memorial service, as I listened to the pastor recount Grandmother’s 36 years of membership and service in her Kansas City church, it occurred to me: Grandmother was Onely, too!
You see, Grandmother was widowed twice – once when she was very young (age 24), and again when she was still quite young (age 56), and after the second time, she remained single for nearly 40 years. Like most of us, Grandmother was single for more than half of her life, even though being married was very much a part of her identity (her mail always came to her addressed to Mrs. [my grandfather’s name]). In fact, I only knew her as a single woman — and she was very strong, independent, and adventurous. She traveled around the world after my grandfather died – some trips with the church, others on her own or with family, and one to visit Argentina, where an older cousin of mine lived. She played a huge part of my life because she had so much time and energy for her family. Until just a couple of years ago, she lived completely on her own, in a house near the Plaza, one of the more beautiful places to live in the city. She was fully dedicated to her family, her friends, a select number of organizations (PEO and DAR), and the church. 130 people signed the guest book at her memorial service.
She lived the life she wanted to live, I am sure of that. I always thought, secretly, that she would die exactly as she lived, at peace and with someone close nearby, and I am happy to be able to say that that’s what happened.
But of course it’s bittersweet: We shared a very close bond; she only had two granddaughters, and the first was much older than me, so I got her all to myself (well, I shared her with my brothers) when I was growing up. I lived at her house for two summers while I was in college (after my parents moved to California and left me in the Midwest all alone!), and every time I left the house, I would tease her, telling her, “now you behave while I’m gone!” Before that, while I was still in high school, I remember her telling me when I turned 17 that 17 had been her favorite age “because that was the only year when I didn’t have a beau.” Because I stayed in the middle of the country, I got to visit her often as we both grew older, and I’m glad about that.
I love and admire my Grandmother very much. I’m glad I had such a strong role model growing up, and I feel incredibly lucky that we shared 29 years in common. It’s hard to have to miss her, though. I’ve gotta say that.