Posts like these are not easy to write. I have a dozen titles in my head but none exactly capture the finality of the fact that my grandmother died on Friday night.
She and I had a complicated relationship. Mostly good for sure but there were big points of conflict over the years from the way she treated me at times to the way she treated others including her husband. A big lesson I can see (from a distance) is that I learned that it is ok to fight, people still love you because I know I always did even when I was super mad.
I wrote a little while ago that in so many ways the real person she was slipped away in little wisps and chunks. She became thin and frail and forgetful. I understand the reality of what happened with her heart and the surrounding systems slowly failing and robbing the brain and body of blood. Friday the heart just called the game and quit, not too much more can be said except her kids were there, and more importantly, they had been visiting as much as possible.
Her heart had a busy life. I think all her yelling could all be filed under the label of Passion. She was an early pioneer of women’s studies (her mother was a pioneer of women’s vote). She was an only child and always wanted siblings and would tell anyone (willing or unwilling) that they should have at least 2 children. I listened, and I agree, 1 would be so easy but 3 triple my views into the world. She had 4 and occasionally she would call me her 5th because I’m actually only 15 years younger than my uncle. She loved when people thought she was my mom and that happened more often than you would guess. Of her 4 there are 12 grandchildren and it made her heart happy to see us succeed. She was extremely education-centric, there was no doubt that I would go to college and my MBA was considered par. She was also absolutely ok with my choice to stay home with the kids after #3, it was the acquisition of knowledge and the ability to have a career that was the point.
We traveled together quite a few times. First to Malta where she and my grandfather were teaching. I was the first grandchild in the school abroad experiment and I appreciated the immersion in another culture. I still prefer American but I can tell you why from personal experience rather than blind nationalism. When I finished college I went to Turkey and she went with me. That was a rocky trip but I would not have gone solo and we did have fun. Her pocketbook was stolen our first night there and we had to go to the Turkish police and we didn’t speak Turkish, they didn’t speak English… the nice young officer they assigned to us tried French next and I replied “Habla Espanol?” His reply was “sprechen sie Deutsche?” and mine was “govorite pa rouski?” and he said DA! so we had a very bad conversation in our 3rd best language but it actually worked out. I also learned how one can get an emergency passport and that the American embassy is in Ankara. I traveled so much young thanks to my parents and grandparents example I’ve never been afraid to take an adventure.
When I moved here and missed my family one of the things I did was start this blog. I knew that she would never, ever, go online for something not absolutely mandated by the university (and then usually one of my aunts or mom would do it) so I called her. I called her nearly every week for years and years and years. We talked about her work, we talked about mine. We talked about what her childhood was like and what my moms was like. I told her I was expecting flying cars, she said she wasn’t too sure about that. Our conversations changed with our lives, 2 weeks ago she said all she did was sleep and I asked her to take a nap for me. Last month I told her there wasn’t a league of woman’s voters here and she told me I knew what to do about that… Last week she wasn’t too chatty but she listened to plans about the new house and how the book ended that we had been talking about – crazy artists in Paris like ManRay.
My mom and aunts have been truly taking care of her and that is 100x the work I did. I called myself cheering section because she just liked the chatter of a young busy person and on that, I can deliver. The hole in my mom’s world is also 100x bigger, but, my hole will be pretty sharply felt every Wednesday at 9:08 when I’ve been calling for the past year, anytime I drive to my old gym, and I’m sure millions of little places that will grief ninja me in the future.
Tomorrow at 5am I head to NY to fulfill her final wish. We actually talked about it, she said she absolutely expected me but not to drag the babies (who were more babies at the time) to her funeral. The kids would need to be in school and their lives shouldn’t be disrupted. So that is what I’m doing, kids here, me there, it will work out. I’m scrambling to get things done before I go but also trying to soak up the kids because I haven’t left them for more than 2 days before. Who knows if I’ll blog there, I’ll go to help where help is needed and say goodbye for the last, last time.