99 years old in body, 29 years young in spirit! Not a day more! Fingers, long in bone, full in vein, the same ones I see in my mother’s hands, and my own, working tirelessly, giving selflessly, day in and day out.
Back facing kitchen, looking out over bird feeder and well loved garden chock full of tomatoes and cabbage heads waiting to be transformed into the best sauerkraut around!
Washing dishes, cooking food, preparing feasts, was your way of nurturing all who came to your house, your home, your kitchen, from near and far. Next to you, a medicine cabinet stocked full, at the ready for that which ailed body, heart, mind or soul. Maalox was plentiful and a sure cure for almost anything!
To younger generations standing watch, tchotchkes and nick nacks abounded. To you and grandpa, semi-precious relics from afar to keep alive in your memory ‘oh the places you have gone’ in that camper of yours! Or the places we travelled along with you via grandpa’s camcorder!
You turn around with that sweet smile on your Oil of Olay ‘sweet cheeks’. A warm “Hello!” always promptly followed by “Can I get you’s somethin’ to eat?”
Through the mouth to the belly, this was your way to show love...you who lived through wars, a Dust Bowl and the Great Depression...but were all but depressed!
With the next warm meal on your mind, my mama’s band practice to host in your living room, and Debbie to love and look after, which you did as well as any saint could, you had your sense of purpose to carry you through the good times and the not-always-so-good. Of those there were likely plenty but you weren’t one to complain very often. Without many words, you taught us the way of working hard with a cheerful heart and a tenacious spirit.
Climbing, descending, climbing, back down again...those stairs of wood to that musty basement, your second home, filled to overflowing with any treat a young girl could want. Freezer full of ice cream and enough frozen food for a small army... shelves brimming with canned goods and whatever was on sale last week, last month, last year...or ten. Batteries, toiletries, stale Ritz crackers, cereal boxes, the little ones that were a special treat only to be enjoyed at your house. I’m not sure what else was on those shelves but if anyone was in need, they never disappointed!
So many fond memories that your passing rouses, as if they were yesterday...like pulling into your eternally long driveway late at night after endless hours on the road, and making our way into the garage through the heavy steel door, through the cleared path bordered by grandpas John Deer oil and gasoline scented work clothes that had been relegated to the basement before he made his way up that same path for dinner at noon and supper at 5. I’m not sure what happened to lunch but it didn’t seem to exist at your house! We’d shuffle past those seemingly endless shelves of goods and creep our way up those creaking wooden stairs in the dark, so as not to wake Debbie or Grandpa, the same steps that were visited by the Easter Bunny every spring during our trips to see you!
We’d enter your house, quiet as a mouse, greeted by your sleepy toothless smile in your pale pink, knee-length nighty. You kissed us all, and with a sweet Indiana drawl, you’d say “Hiiiiiiii Dave!”, the kind of greeting that tells a young girl you have a tender place in your heart for her daddy...like he’s truly a son of your own.
You made each one of us feel so loved in your own special way. I could go on and on but I’ve been instructed to stick to 5 minutes! So, the one parting memory I will share, now that you have passed to the land beyond, where beings are known by the light they radiate. After Great Grandma and then Grandpa passed, you shared with me stories of visitations to your room at night in the form of a twinkling light near your picture of the Blessed Mother and her Beloved Son. May you pass swiftly and peacefully to the heavenly realms beyond this world of flesh and bone and reunite with that light for an eternity. May we remain vigilant for the moment when you return to us in the form of a twinkling light, a knowing word, a kind and selfless gesture, a funny joke, a chippendale birthday card, a wadded up $20 bill in the palm, a spoon full of Maalox, a fork full of Sauerkraut, a plate full of Lima beans...or perhaps a set of false teeth in a salad bowl!
Granny, we will miss you more than any of these many words can say but we can only celebrate your choice to return home to the Ones who breathed life into your earthly body one century ago!
You have given us a lifetime of memories that will live on in our hearts forever! From all of us to you, Happy Birthday!
I sure will miss kissing your sweetest of all cheeks!
I'm Kelly Isabelle.
Full-time workin' mama & spouse aspiring to live a slowly paced, sustainably minded, creatively expressed, clutter-free life shared with kindred folk.