My grandma died on Saturday and it doesn’t feel real. She was such a feisty, spirited person—I can’t quite believe she’s gone. She always seemed indomitable and maybe that’s the hardest thing about death, no matter how unlikely it seems to us, it always comes.
Talking to my little sister about it on Sunday, she said something to the effect of in some ways she’ll always be here with us and I very ungraciously blurted, “No, it’s not the same.” I hope Ellie (named after our Grandma Nora—both “Eleanora”s) forgives me. I’m a terrible person to grieve with—like an injured dog or something, snappish and horrible, best left in a cave until the worst passes. And I know my sister is right: our grandmother left an amazing legacy. I just wish she hadn’t left.
Something else wise that Ellie said (that I think/hope I was a bit more reasonable about) was that she always felt special to Grandma, that she (our grandmother) had always had one-on-one time for her. I felt the same way. And maybe that’s not something spectacular to most people, but we come from large, busy family (immediate and extended). My Grandma had ten of her own kids and most them married and went on to have two – seven kids each. I don’t know how she managed she managed to keep up a personal, meaningful relationship with each of her grandkids, but she did.
She was famous for a very strong, brisk hug. There was no soft, namby-pamby half-hearted pat, pat—you were grabbed and squeezed hard. It was very lovely and grounding. You mattered to her and she concentrated on you.
She never lost her Dutch accent and my name (Evelene) never sounded the same off of anyone else’s tongue. She was always self-conscious about the way she talked and her way of speaking and writing English (which was ridiculous, because she was adept at both), but it made me think how in some ways we always, maybe, feel our differences rather than our similarities.
She had a very sharp tongue and wit and temper (though I think us grandkids were spared the temper in a way, perhaps, her own children/husband weren’t), but she was also warm-hearted and generous, massively sentimental and given to misting up over happy and sad moments in equal measure. She was also incredibly practical.
I have written about her before and no doubt will again soon, but for right now, I just wanted to say I already miss her. I believe she is in a better place, free from pain now, quite likely, as my son says, playing Scrabble with my grandpa and visiting two of her daughters who died too young—but I am very sad she’s gone.
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About the picture: A few summers ago, I showed up to my cousin’s wedding to find out that my Grandma and I had bought and worn the same outfit even though we lived in different towns. She thought I might be embarrassed, but it was totally the opposite.
“Great minds and all that,” I said, which made her laugh and say something about not knowing about that, but okay, okay . . .