Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Saying good-bye


Early this morning, this lovely and amazing lady passed out of my life at the age of 95. So many family members have been sharing some of her funny phrases with each other all day. My brain doesn't really work that way. I remember in pictures, not words. As her health began to plummet in the last few weeks, I saw a parade of vivid images in my mind: Her greeting us at the door at 10 pm in her blue bathrobe with the white trim when we arrived for a visit and going straight to the kitchen to make us a snack of toasted LI bagels with the insides pulled out and canned peaches - she seemed to have that bathrobe for decades;



Floating with her in the ocean and being amazed by how buoyant she was and how her feet always popped out at the surface while mine determinedly sunk no matter how hard I tried; Playing Spite and Malice in her living room and Scrabble on the beach; Eating grapefruit drizzled with honey and artichokes dipped in butter at her dining room table (one visit without my parents, she made us 3 girls artichokes almost every night, knowing how much we loved them. When we got home my mother greeted us at the door with the promise of artichokes for dinner and we groaned, "artichokes again?!" She was crushed)...

It's astounding to me all the small ways that she lives on in my every day tasks. I used to sit side-by-side with her at the kitchen table and watch her cut piles of green beans with the bean held in one hand and the other hand  holding the knife so that the index finger pushed the knife through the tip of the bean and connected with her thumb on the other side without ever cutting her. I practiced this skill for years and whenever I cut green beans now I can almost feel her standing next to me.



When I'm at the gas tank and I get the cheapest gas (which she thought was terrible for my car), I can hear her saying "penny wise, pound foolish". When I sit down next to Joe on the couch to do a crossword puzzle with our legs stretched out in front of us and our feet crossed one over the other, I see her in her reclining chair in almost the exact same position, completing the NY Times Crossword puzzle (she was a master puzzler and I'm convinced this daily practice helped keep her mind clear and sharp for most of her 95 years).



She always loved to tell a particular story about me. When I was little - actually, this went on well into middle school - I would stand at the door and wait for her arrival. When the car pulled in to our driveway I'd be the first one out the door, jumping up and down screaming "Grammy's here! Grammy's here".

That's me on the far right
My Dad once said that when he was a kid she could be at times remote and not quick to give physical affection. Maybe she softened over the years. Or maybe the irrepressible joy and affection of her grandchildren couldn't be denied. At any rate, I remember her as warm, affectionate, wry, sassy, sarcastic, witty, and an amazing cook.



She was a globe trotter who went on African safaris and climbed the Great Wall of China in her 70s.



She lived just outside of NYC (born and raised in Brookly and moved to LI when my Dad was small). She took me to countless Broadway shows and after one such outing, introduced me to my first steak when I was 22 at Morton's of Chicago down by the World Trade Center on Washington St. She was curious and cultured and by example, encouraged us to be the same. My grandmother was an incredible woman that I will always love, always admire, always miss terribly. Good-bye Grammy Lulee, I hope your passing was peaceful.




1 comment:

  1. Maura & George (friends of your dad)January 28, 2015 at 3:19 PM

    What a beautiful tribute to an amazing woman. You and all who loved her were fortunate to have her with you for so long on this plane. She will quite obviously be with you always. But still, losing her physical presence is wrenching, and we send you our sympathies and hopes that those memories will buoy you in the days and weeks to come.

    ReplyDelete