20 October 2013


My grandmother would have turned 100 this week.  She was a true lady, a tough, self-reliant woman, and a friend to everyone.  She was also very smart and musical, leaving home to study music Oberlin College at age sixteen, and playing multiple instruments, including piano and trombone.  Her superpower, though, was being able to make whomever she was talking to feel like the most important person in the world. 

I’ve been thinking about her a lot this week. 

·         About how she never felt sorry for herself.  Instead she adopted the attitude of blooming where she was planted, even when she followed her husband to remote mining settlements all over Arizona in the first half of the 1900’s.  And how, after her husband of more than sixty years and friend of much longer died, she bloomed again in a new community.

·         About how she would have enjoyed watching her “greats,” as she called her great-grandchildren, play sports and succeed in school.  About how she would have loved to hear my daughters play violin and guitar, and sing music.  How proud she would have been to receive the news that her great-grandson was appointed to the Air Force Academy, like one of her grandsons and two of her sons.

She would often remark how she enjoyed the opportunity to watch her grandchildren grow up - that she couldn’t wait to see who we’d become.  Each of us grandchildren was so fortunate that we were able to grow into adulthood having had the chance to know her, to have appreciated her from our perspective as adults, to have been thoroughly cocooned in her love for so many important years.  But, oh, how she would have loved her greats!

I read this Letter of Note this morning and thought of how I sometimes catch a glimmer of her presence now and then, in the long shadows of summer’s late afternoon, in the crisp, yellow days of fall in the high desert, and how improbable and lovely it is that this is a comfort to me. 

Happy Birthday, Gram.