Friday, November 14, 2008

A Tribute

Last night I lost my Grandma. She was 94 years old
and had been living without her husband for over seven years. She was ready to
go. She’d been ready for a while and she left this world peacefully. These
memories are dedicated to my Grandma and Grandpa who are together at long last.

Tip and Jack, this one’s for you:

What I remember most about Grandma, aside from her
spunk and sense of humor, is the adoring eyes of Grandpa and how much he loved
her. I remember a visit they made to my house during my senior year of high
school. Grandpa wanted to get Grandma a nice gift and asked me to take him to
the store. In the car on the way to the local department store he revealed that
he wanted to buy her a nightgown. A deep admirer of the aesthetics of a
woman all of his life, Grandpa was very specific about his nightgown choice. He
wanted something that would flatter her figure. Between the driving "lessons" he would give me while we cruised through town (he was never much of a passenger in his life), he proceeded to tout the
virtues of Grandma's then-80-year-old body to me saying things like, “You know, your
Grandma has a really nice figure. Always has.” At that moment, although
admittedly embarrassed, I saw my 80-year-old Grandma through her husband’s eyes
and I saw her as I never had before. She was beautiful in a timeless way that
few can ever hope to achieve, a loving, devoted wife and mother and the object
of one incredible man’s undying affection. I helped Grandpa pick out a
nightgown befitting royalty for Grandma, the apple of his eye.

Grandma was a fairly peaceful woman. She got along
with most, had a pleasant disposition and a dry sense of humor that I’d like to
think I inherited, at least partially, from her. She did have a running
dispute, her own personal vendetta against one marvel of modern technology: the
television. I don’t know if my memories are amplified because I so desperately
wanted to watch Guiding Light at age
10 at the beach instead of splashing around in the ocean or flying a kite with
my cousins or any number of things that kids “should be doing.” But I felt
constantly persecuted by her insistence that I “turn that infernal thing off!” An
avoider of conflict all of my life, I usually complied and ended up swimming in
the bay with my cousins, riding the waves in the ocean, or chatting with my
family on rocking chairs on the porch. No matter what the alternative activity
was, it was always more enriching and memorable than any episode of Guiding Light so I guess Grandma knew
something I didn’t. While these moments felt like persecution at the time, I
learned a deep appreciation for quality time with family from my Grandmother
and, as a result of her and my Grandpa’s efforts, I know my five cousins as
well as many families know their own siblings. Our dedication to carry on
Grandma and Grandpa’s legacy has led to many recent family reunions. To this
day, every time the television is turned on in the presence of my extended
family, I feel some residual guilt. Mission accomplished Grandma.

After I turned 12 or so, our beach vacations ceased
and we switched to the Western half of the country. We started a new tradition
of meeting at Keystone ski resort in Colorado for a week each spring. Grandma
and Grandpa had always rented the beach houses and they continued to give us
this great gift by renting a ski bungalow every year. By the time our ski week
tradition started, neither Grandma nor Grandpa were able to ski but they
participated none-the-less. They came to the ski lodge with our picnic lunches
every day and we all hopped off the slopes for an hour or so of conversation
and nourishment. They listened intently as we all spoke of our skiing
adventures and mishaps of the morning. Lunch was always a lively occasion and
attendance was mandatory. After our thawing and belly-filling was complete, we’d
gear up and head out. A couple times during each week, Grandma and Grandpa
would hop on the Gondola to watch us collectively come down the mountain
directly under them while the Gondola cruised to it’s destination. This mass
ski required some logistics and many of the more skilled skiers in our group
were forced to wait for the rest of us but we all participated without
complaint for the sake of Grandma and Grandpa. We’d wait until we saw Grandpa’s
hands hanging out the window of the gondola and all start skiing. We’d stop,
look up, and wave to Grandma and Grandpa who waived, smiling and laughing
enthusiastically in return. They may have longed to be hitting the slopes
themselves but we never knew it. They seemed perfectly content to watch us
glide down the mountain as a group, THEIR group, THEIR family, the creation of
the two of them and their love for each other.

And that is how I think of them
now: together at long last, hand in hand, looking down on our growing family,
content with the legacy they left behind.






  1. Your post made me cry. Thanks for sharing their beautiful love story. Hugs to you.

  2. beautiful jules just beautiful

  3. Beautiful story. Although I didn't know her very long, but i loss her too, specially me and Jason always visit and spent time with Grandma.

  4. That was beautiful J, simply beautiful.

  5. So sorry for your loss. There just isn't anything to say at a time like this, but you've done a wonderful job memorializing them.

  6. I think we met your Grandmother at your wedding, I don't really know your cousins, but, I can attest to the character of one of her Granddaughters, if they turned out anywhere near as well as you did, she left a legacy anyone would be proud of. Your family will be on our minds and in our prayers.

  7. Very nice. Thanks for sharing this with us. I can read between the lines all the love that you have for your grandparents. I am very happy that I was able to meet Jack and Tip. They brought to life *all* the tangible things that the word family stands for!

  8. Beautifully said. My first 12hr night shift started right after Janet told me Grandma had died. Reading your tribute helped me begin to process the loss. They both helped define the meaning of family. What a gift. Sounds weird but thank you for the tears.

  9. A beautiful tribute, Julianne - thank you. Both grandparents would be very proud of your words. I too am finding comfort from the knowledge that they are both finally back together again.

  10. Lovely.
    I'm sorry for your loss and admire the strength of your beliefs.

  11. Just right, Jules, just write.
    You capture it beautifully.
    How truly blessed we are to have had them.
    Love, Jeannie

  12. This was lovely! I'm so sorry for your loss. I do know how you feel, having just lost mine a month ago.
    I once read that the best part of staying married a long time (to the same person) is that they'll always see you as you were in the beginning. It seems that's how your Grandpa viewed your Grandma.

  13. What a beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  14. brought tears to my eyes but oh so beautiful. so sorry for your loss but thankfully you have those wonderful memories :-)

  15. I'm so sorry for your loss. What wonderful memories you have that will be lasting treasures for you to pass on to your kids and grandkids!

  16. Amy told me how beautiful your tribute to your grandparents was... and she was so right. Thank you for sharing a part of them with us all.

  17. That was beautiful. Life is emptier when we lose ones we love but forever richer because of who they were.
    Sorry for your loss!