This is what I wrote the night before, and read at her funeral:
My first thought when I learned that Grandma had died was: I’m not prepared for this. It felt shocking in a way that objectively the death of an 85-year-old should not. But I wasn’t prepared—I was shocked and overcome and heartbroken. Because you’re never ready to lose a person who has been a fixture of your life from birth.
It’s a luxury and a blessing to have such a thing as fixtures in your life, such a thing as a person who will always be there. To have had, in my case, almost 37 years with her.
I’ve been thinking about heritage. Legacy, about what’s passed down, about the thread from woman to woman, from one generation to the next.
There’s a grimace Grandma would make when she was opening a tight jar of peaches or jam. I catch myself making the same face in the same situations. She told me once, in her kitchen, not to bother filling a dirty pot with water for soaking—just set it in the sink and it will soon be filled through the normal course of kitchen activity, as the tap runs for hand-washing and cup-filling and purposes unrelated to soaking the pot. I think of this in my own kitchen nearly every time I set a dirty dish in the sink. Her water-saving tip always bears out.
We moved into a new house at the same time that Grandma and Grandpa were moving out of their home of 53 years on Moxam Drive, and we inherited many items they no longer had use for. I make soup in Grandma’s stockpot. We have two threadbare quilts that hold a lot of history. Our living room lamps are so old they’re cool—a friend told me she was sure she’d seen the exact set selling for a lot of money on Queen West. I cherish these small tangible connections to my past and to the people I come from. I think of Grandma regularly, when I’m making soup, and when I’m opening jars.
I make soup in Grandma’s pot. Afterward, I do not fill the pot with wasted water.
The thing I treasured most about the year and a bit my grandparents lived with my parents was that my children got to develop a genuine ongoing relationship of their own with their Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa. I love that they loved her, that they’ll remember her at least a little bit. That they knew her--certainly with less energy and ability than I did--but with the same puzzles and cookies and delight in seeing their faces. They knew from her the same love—a love that was so unforced and ever-present that it felt normal and unremarkable, that I now know was in fact extraordinary.