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Remembering Grandma

My father’s father was the first of my grandparents to die.  I remember snippets and images of him, but nothing of his personality.  He died when I was young.  I remember his funeral, but didn’t really understand what it meant.

My father’s mother was next.  She died while I was in college, a few months after my father died.  I remember her quite clearly.  We were never particularly close, though.  We’d talk about things that were new in my life, she’d smile and say how nice that was.  I was sad when she died, but it was really just a small aftershock following my father.

My mother’s father died two years ago.  I still miss him.  He wasn’t a close friend, but we had real conversations about things that we both cared about.  I learned from him, and he learned from me.  I never understood his religious views, but they didn’t keep us from talking.  We shared attachments to Town Meeting, the Red Sox, and Massachusetts politics, and talked about them for hours over the years.

My mother’s mother died yesterday.  She’s been frail for a while and quite ill for the last two weeks, so it wasn’t a shock.  But it hurts like a bitch.  She’s my grandmother.  I’ve talked and joked and laughed and chatted with her for as long as I can remember.  And now she’s gone.  Some things that I remember:

I remember going on “Grandma-cations” when I was a kid, where my brothers and I would stay for a night or two with her in Dedham.

I remember, as a child, getting her very angry.  She said she was “very cross” with me, and I had no idea what that meant.

I remember her cajoling me into piano drills and conversations in French – all a waste of her time, I’m afraid.

I remember getting hand-written, 4-page letters from her while I was at college – and the first three pages were about the Red Sox.

I remember giving a presentation to the exec team at Abuzz in 1999 – and having to apologize because my 80+ year old grandmother was IM’ing me on AOL about whether or not Pedro Martinez was going to win the Cy Young.

I remember how she could press a button and make my mother and her siblings react like they’d been electrified.  But somehow grandchildren got a pass, and we never got that level of disapproval.

I remember when I was unemployed and rather than buy gifts for Christmas, I used my mother’s kitchen and made cookies as presents, and that made Grandma cry.

I remember the day of grandpa’s funeral, when she got all of her grandchildren together at a table and just talked – about us, about her, about her life, about grandpa.

Most of all I remember her stories.  I’ll never be able to reconstruct them.  Most of them died with her.  But I have snippets.

One last picture, from my Uncle John.  It’s not a picture of Grandma, but it’s a picture of what she was.  She was family, she was cake, she was Dedham, she was china, she was napkins, she was birthday, she was date keeper.  She was the last of her generation. She was family.

I miss her already.


Comment from Jared Kowis
Time: July 18, 2009, 11:00 pm

So sorry for your loss, Dan. Hope you’re doing alright.

Comment from Blobby
Time: July 19, 2009, 8:02 am

What a nice post. What a great relationship.

All my grandparents died when I was much younger so I never truly established a connection like this. It hurts now, but what great memories to carry w/you forever.

Comment from Yoav Shapira
Time: July 19, 2009, 10:14 am

Sorry ;( My condolences. Let me know if / how I can help.

Comment from Leila
Time: July 19, 2009, 11:51 am

Thanks, Dan, for sharing your memories. You are blessed to have them!
See you tonight!

Comment from Sean Breen
Time: July 20, 2009, 3:37 am

Beautiful tribute, Dan.

Comment from Rich cook
Time: July 20, 2009, 8:49 pm

Sorry for your loss man. My grandma (last grandparent) passed away earlier this year. Sucks. She was a story teller…Tons of stories about the more colorful people in the family going back to the 1800s that she had collected.


Comment from dunster
Time: July 20, 2009, 9:49 pm

Thank you all for your kind words and thoughts of support. We buried grandma today. It was sad, but she was a great lady who had decided that her time had come. I’ll miss her, but her passing is not a tragedy.

Comment from dunster
Time: July 21, 2009, 12:24 am

I thought of another one today: I remember how she liked my Mustang convertible. When I got it, she would ask about it every time we talked. I visited one day, and then asked her if she wanted a ride with the top down. It was a little cool. She wrapped her head in a scarf and put on those gigantic grandma-sunglasses. We drove around Dedham and West Roxbury and who knows how many other towns. She talked and talked about what the neighborhoods used to be like – I just drove, and let her direct the drive. When we came home, grandpa just chuckled – I think grandma was a little peeved at the reaction.