04 February 2013

... and then we die, and it's ok

My parents were young when they married, so Jackie and I were fortunate to grow up with lots of grandparents for many years. Since I was the oldest, I named them all. On my father's side were Grammy Dot (because her name was Dorothy) and her husband, John, who I called Whisk (short for Whisker Grandpa, because he had a 5 o'clock shadow when he returned from his commute to NYC). They were dad's parents. From the time they were married, they lived with my grandmother's parents, Rose and Frank. I named them 'Nother Grammy (since she was another grammy in the same house) and Grandpa Inch (short for something like "inchschpiegel", which is what he apparently called me). I now regret never finding out what that meant. My great grandfather was a serious gardener, read National Geographic from the time I can remember and was very kind. He also was the only one I remember going to church on a regular basis.

This is a photo of Grammy Dot wearing one of the coats I loved best - with a lynx collar:
Grammy Dot - I still have those pearls
Both of my grandmothers were pretty glamorous and loved clothes and jewelry. Grammy Dot also worked her ass off and was not afraid to get dirty (she took off her pearls then). She was an incredible baker - cream puffs, lemon meringue pie, apple strudel, 3-tiered birthday cakes, mini decorated cupcakes for our birthdays (cupcakes are not new), cookies of every sort, a braided bread called varnuchka - and everything was made from scratch. She wore a babushka when she wasn't wearing some stylish hat with, of course, a hat pin.

I was with her when she drew her last breath. It wasn't scary or sad; I was happy that she wasn't alone - she loved us all like mad.
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I don't usually post script my blog entries, but I remembered something my grandmother said on her 90th birthday that is worth noting. We went to visit her and she said, "Can you believe I'm 80?"  My sister and mom and I looked at one another and someone said, "No, you're 90 today." "No I'm not, I was born in 1911," she quickly responded. We told her it was 2001, she paused and considered this, and then said, "I'm 90? No wonder I feel like crap!"