My grandma called me Sweetie Bugs and she always kept her nails impeccably clean and trimmed and beautiful. She used to sit with her breathing machine and smile at me while I ate one of the magically-refilling donuts from the bread drawer in her kitchen, and she never approved of my nail-biting habit. My long, thin fingers are the only physical characteristic I recognize on myself as coming from her, but mine never look as pretty and whatever you might remember about me someday when I die, it probably won’t be my impeccably kept fingernails.
She was a wonderful housekeeper– another quality she failed to pass on to me– and she taught me to make pie crust and to use one of those spool knitters to make long, mostly useless chains of yarn. My family now appreciates the pie crust but is pretty much apathetic about the yarn. That’s okay. Apathetic is how I feel about yarn, too.
I spent Saturday morning folding clothes out of Grandma’s closet and I didn’t cry, because I was all cried out by then, after the funeral and the oppressive heat of the church and the roses heaped up on the casket at the cemetery.
She was my last living grandparent, tall and kind and always busy. She was a strong and loving woman who took many under her wing when they needed help. She lived in Upstate New York for her whole life, and her funeral filled the old church in Hermon that still smells like summer vacation to me.
Her apartment is cleaned out now, and Mom and Dad will bring me home a box of things, but none of them really matter as much as the dress she made me for my eighth grade graduation and the way her fingers always shook but somehow made the most amazing and beautiful things. Nothing in that box is worth anything in comparison to the way she would laugh and the memory I have of watching last fall’s lunar eclipse from her patio.
My grandma prayed for decades and finally led my grandpa to the Lord just months before he died.
She let me pound on the piano and fill her usually-peaceful house with the sounds of what perhaps a grandmother might call music, but no one else would.
I would lay on her kitchen counter and she would wash my hair in her sink, massaging my scalp with those wonderful long beautiful fingers, and she introduced me to the wonders of frozen grapes and bananas.
Yesterday I read Proverbs 31 to my children at breakfast, and in that famous passage about an excellent wife I find a portrait of my grandmother.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.
Thank you, Grandma. Thank you for spoiling me, for delighting in me, for making amazing hot fudge sauce and whole wheat muffins, for teaching me to make pie crust and for keeping my Mother’s Day Poem from 1992 in your Bible for 24 years.
I am proud to be your granddaughter, and I can’t wait for the day when I see you again.
We do not mourn like those who have no hope.