It's almost been two years since my gramma died; and I am almost to the point emotionally where I can write about it. I'd like to write her a proper eulogy, I understand that people grieve in different ways, but I feel as if my gramma wasn't given her due respect. If I can practice here...I'd like to first give a bit of backstory.
One of my favorite Greg Brown songs is "Canned Goods"-the live version. I nicknamed it the "Gramma Song". Greg is such a talented musician that he brings out the beauty and charm and humor in the everyday. In this song, he sings about the summer and his gramma, and how much he loves and misses her. He also sings about going to her house on Sundays, something I used to do with my family when I was younger too. The live version rambles and roams- for 13 sublime minutes I am transported back to her home in Avon Lake with my own memories for company.
"Well maybe you're world weary and don't give a damn. I bet you've never tasted her blackberry jam."
I recently started being able to hear this song, because it reminded me so much of her. And it's such a lovely song, for such a lovely lady....
My gramma was the kind of woman whose wisdom and good nature are heralded in songs by folk artists. She was the woman who would be the first to kiss you hello, and the one to hold the "good bye" hug one more second longer. Her humor and positive attitude kept one smiling, even in the face of dire straits.
As a young kid, my gramma was the "cool one". The gramma whose inner child defied grey hair, age spots, shrinking bones and wrinkles. Her cars were cool; she drove without a seat belt but yelled at us in the back seat to "hold on to your gauchos" when making a hairpin turn at 40 mph. She got her hair done every Saturday at the hair dressers-wash and set. I wonder if her hair was a cloud to hold her ethereal beauty down here on Earth. It certainly looked like a cloud! She loved going to the mall and spending the day, wandering around and lazily eating a nice sandwich and some salad for lunch. She was a dynamic lady-and a cool one at that. She loved joking around and making funny faces for us kids. When she'd travel to Aruba, she'd wear a babushka to cover her bleached hair. She loved the sun, and the beach, and the warmth.
Gramma's Sunday dinners were legendary-they were a day to gather, a day to feast, a day to play. Sometimes she made spaghetti with her salad, sometimes we ordered McDonald's. Always we were together. She was at the helm of the ship our family rode on, and the glue that kept us afloat. Her sauerkraut was delicious and her salads were awesome-once I got to like lettuce.
As the years progressed, my gramma maintained her "coolness" but evolved into a woman whom I respected for her tenacity, admired for her unending capability to love, and loved because she loved me. I began to appreciate how devoted she was to her family, and how she embodied the philosophy that the wisdom of the heart does not always heed the warnings of the mind. She loved all, unconditionally and fully. She made a point to visit me in college with my mom, and those visits were uplifiting and fun. We always had a good time going to Wheeling Downs, or driving through Oglebay park or downtown, or hanging out to drink coffee. Even when I moved to Michigan, she came to visit me. She prefered the trip to Wheeling, because it was prettier. She was the only family member to visit me, outside of my parents and sister. Reflecting on it, I think that she wanted me to feel that I was still loved and still part of the family-even though I was far away.
That was just one example of her amazing ability to make people feel loved. It was as if she was a conduit of love, capable of sending love with just one wink of her eye. She was a stubborn woman-she insisted on taking care of you. She was genuinely touched when her love was returned; she loved spending time with her children and grandchildren. And, we loved spending time with her too.
As her time became shorter and shorter, we each said our goodbyes. In our own ways. How does one say "goodbye" to someone who has never left? But, hug me just one second longer, Gramma, one more hug...
"Taste a little of the summer, taste a little of the summer. My gramma put it all in jars...
Let those December winds bellow and blow, I'm as warm as a July tomato."