She was not pleased when I came out as a lesbian, until she realized I was getting an award (40 Under 40) and would be wearing a skirt to receive it. She came around and embraced Ledcat like another one of her grandkids. Same gifts every holiday. She even remembered her as her dementia increased, a sure sign of a bond.
Not many people reach 38 and still have a living grandparent (my oldest cousin is 52). I was pretty darn lucky. I was also lucky that a lot of her personality shone through even into her last year. She still smiled and enjoyed retro television. And ice cream. Ah, how she loved her ice cream.
There's some strange little “coincidences” popping up here. She died the same month as her husband, albeit 8 years later. The night of my grandfather's funeral, I went to an Indigo Girls concert (where I finally cried). The night of her funeral, I'll be at the Decembrists. Same funeral home, same arrangements. New sense of finality. All four of my grandparents have passed which leaves me feeling somewhat adrift from my past. She's left me hundreds of photos to sort through and almost every letter she's received, including all of my grandfather's letters from WWII.
She took care of me when my mother was hospitalized while I was a child. She sent me Calvin & Hobbes comic strips every week for the 4 years of college and 2 years of grad school. She baked a date and nut pudding every holiday. She took me to Kaufmann's. She was annoyed with me when I discovered that our family was not Irish Catholic, but in fact German Catholic and Irish Protestant. But she still trusted me with her final wishes which made yesterday's visit to the funeral home relatively painless. I just had to pick out a prayer card and a guest book. She took care of everything else including her obituary.
I was pretty good until I went to Macy's to purchase her funeral outfit. She's been wearing casual clothing for two years so there was nothing dressy enough for her final outfit. I found this awesome print jacket combo and began to sob in the middle of the store when I realized it was the last outfit I would buy for her. I've been shopping for her over the past 6 years. I know she would like it, but it was really tough when the sales clerk told me I'd get a lifetime of use out of it.
I certainly had a lifetime of love from my Grandma. She was a fierce little woman who made some very human choices over her lifetime and leaves behind a lot of stories and memories.
This is a sad time, but not tragic. A 93 year old woman being able to stay at home (thanks PDA Waiver program) her final year and passing in her sleep just an hour after a tender exchange with her daughter in law is pretty much a good way to pass.
God Speed, Grandma.