Sunday, October 2, 2011

A more solemn posting

Sorry for our absence, blog-o-sphere. It's actually not because we've been boring, but moreso because we were out of town for five days, which meant several days of frantic preparation (all on my part--packing and trying to get teaching materials prepared for my TA), and then several other frantic days of catch-up.

The reason for our last-minute trip was less than ideal--my grandmother passed away, after over a year in a nursing home and a diagnosis of dementia (believed to be Alzheimers type). Before moving on with details of our trip, which for the most part was a great several days filled with family and considerable laughter, I feel compelled to write a little something about my grandmother.

It's funny how as someone so much younger, I feel at somewhat of a loss to describe her personality. What I have most is snippets of memories from the last thirty years. Christmases in Park Ridge, Illinois, and summers at the family cottage in Michigan. Cheese sandwiches for lunch, the cheese neatly kept in square tupperware containers. Watching her drink tea on the cottage porch while reading a newspaper, or playing solitaire in the evenings. Visiting Grandma for a few days by myself and getting to ride the then-intimidating El train with her to dirty downtown Chicago, where I accompanied her to her job at Encyclopedia Britannica. Then, over the last several years, sitting on her futon couch in Madison, listening to classical music and telling her about things at graduate school. Bringing my friends to the cottage in the summer, including that memorable Bollywood performance which Grandma asked us to repeat at the top of the hill before we left town. Small moments, all of these, but they will stick with me.

Obviously, I am sad to see her go, although I feel the last time I truly saw her was a year and a half ago, on my last visit to Madison before I left for internship. We looked through her books, through her belongings, for things that I might like. And right now, in my apartment in Fayetteville, I'm staring at the wooden Don Quixote and Sancho Panza she left me. There are pieces of her around my apartment, both explicit (beer stein from her shelf) and implicit (my enjoyment of puns).

More importantly, I realized how lucky I am. Lucky to have met three of my great grandmothers, and lucky to have known two grandmothers into my thirties. I've gone through adolescence and my adult life to date only experiencing the somewhat distant deaths of my great many people can say that? So, in addition to sadness, mostly I feel thankful to have spent this much time with my mother's mother, and grateful that my father's mother is still around.

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