My sister called me earlier tonight to tell me that our grandmother had died in the hospital, just two days after we all found out she had cancer. So far as I have heard, the rest of the family is taking it pretty well, given the circumstances.
Cresaean culture holds that a person isn't really lost until they're forgotten, and so stories are continued to be told about the deceased as if they weren't dead. I'd like to do something like that for Grandma, but I'll need help from my family in gathering and retelling her stories. I do remember...
- ...her telling me about how she worked in an office where she was (one of?) the only women. It reminded me of how I like being the only female in a group, and I was surprised to find that I shared this trait with Grandma.
- ...visiting her at RBC, back when the family still ran it. She had an office in the back (or was it the front and my dad's office was in the back?), past a office-hallway thing that never seemed to have anyone in it. I liked to write with her pens from her desk — they were wide at the base and tapered to a thin point at the far end, and felt like ballpoint plumes. She also let me play with her whiteout in my writings. I wonder if she knew how much fun I had with such a simple thing like that? I was too young to think to express my feelings about it then, and I've only just remembered it now.
- ...talking to her in her living room, with her sitting on her plush couch and surrounded by all the teddy bears we had given her over many Christmases. Grandparents are notoriously hard to buy gifts for, but Grandma liked her bears.
- ...listening to her play the piano. Grandma couldn't read sheet music, but she was an incredible pianist who played by ear instead. I felt jealous in an awed sort of way by how well she played. She also played the organ in the back of the living room once or twice, I think, but I don't remember that as well.
- ...looking at all her photographs on top of her piano and along the various end tables. She would tell us who some of the less frequently visited relatives were and how they were all related to each other.
- ...trying (and mostly failing miserably) to help her with little things in the kitchen when she still prepared Thanksgiving meals herself. (My dad eventually took over most of the food preparation as she got older.) She made an awesome shrimp salad that I've never found reproduced quite as tasty anywhere else. We often had pies, too — pumpkin comes to mind — but I'm not positive whether she actually baked those herself. And she always had a pot of hot coffee and nice cups and saucers ready whenever we were there.
- ...her wearing a lot of crocheted clothing (vests, mostly) that she had made herself. She liked dark greens, and dark brown (or maybe white?) moccasin-like shoes.
- ...playing with my cousins at her house when my dad's side of the family got together for Thanksgiving or Christmas Day. She let us use her old typewriter up in that little office in the far back end of the third floor, and let us play with all the old stuff up in her two-level attic. We picked lemons, rode in an old metal wagon, passed "mail" through the mail slot in the little dining room, and explored beneath the deck and behind the tool sheds of her back yard. She didn't directly participate in our games, but they are part of my memories associated with Grandma.
I wish I had talked more with her when she visited our house during holidays and birthdays. It's just so easy to let the grandparent-generation people talk amongst themselves while we kids escape to play video games or watch movies during family gatherings. But now we can't form any new memories of Grandma, aside from sharing with one another things we each remember about her.