Earlier this month my family and I laid to rest my grandmother. She was in deteriorating health in her later years, and two Sundays ago, her long fight with emphysema ended at the hospice. Her funeral was beautiful, and I'm grateful for those who offered their condolences and paid their respects.
Grandma was a very interesting person. Even as a kid I knew that she wasn't like the prototypical matronly figure of most families. Sure she did all the things that grandmas do for their grandchildren: cook meals, bake various confections, and spoil the hell out the grandkids with various trinkets and toys, but there was a side of grandma that she didn't generally bring out around me. For her, I was somehow insulated from her real world. Somehow I remained special in her eyes, and very much the young kid that looked forward to playing Yahtzee (even though she'd get a frustrated with my lack of counting skills when it came to tallying up the scoresheets). Grandma also had opinions about things. Sometimes they were spot on, but other times even my young mind would wonder where the heck these opinions came from. One thing was always crystal clear, though: if she liked you, she would respect you. I'm fortunate to say that I always felt respected and loved by my grandma.
Hers was a simple like. She cut hair for a living over at the old Hudson's building in downtown Detroit. When she retired many years later, she would still cut people's hair at her place. She had the most amazing "mind-control-device" hair dryer for drying permanents, which I still remember to this day.
She loved to garden. Her house was a veritable jungle of plants, all carefully staked and tended. If it had roots, she could make it grow. She could tell plants apart that to this day I can barely see any difference. And her nemesis was the squirrels in the back yard. She would devises all sorts of schemes to keep them away from her garden, especially her peach tree. She'd hang pie-plates on the branches to the point where the tree was a veritable mobile. One particular event I remember was when she had finally had it with the squirrels and her peach tree. She decided (how, I'm not entirely sure) to make the tree unpalatable for the little buggers. So, she dutifully spread tabasco sauce all over the tree. Needless to say, the tree didn't have to worry about squirrels any longer.
Her love of life, her candor, and her smile will always be remembered by those who loved her. Like Dad says, she's up in heaven watching Lawrence Welk live.
Thank you, Grandma, for everything.