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Goodbye, Grandma

Posted by Rick · December 19th, 2005 · 6 Comments

[T]ime is not like space. And when you put something down somewhere, like a protractor or a biscuit, you can have a map in your head to tell you where you have left it, but even if you don’t have a map it will still be there because a map is a representation of things that actually exist so you can find the protractor or the biscuit again. And a timetable is a map of time, except that if you don’t have a timetable time is not there like the landing and the garden and the route to school. Because time is only the relationship between the way different things change, like the earth going round the sun and atoms vibrating and clocks ticking and day and night and waking up and going to sleep… — Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Vintage Contemporaries) (2004) page unknown, found via post of the same name on MightyGirl.

And another thing about time is that the more of it you’ve had, the faster it flows.

My grandmother was in her 90s when she died last night. Even in my late 40s — something, incidentally, that I never imagined I’d see myself writing! — anything greater than 90 years seems like a long time. Yet it’s not.

It wasn’t that much over 100 years ago that our Civil War was fought. Even before my grandmother passed — just last week, actually — I was thinking about the fact that when I was born, there were still people alive who had been slaves. (I’m reading Team of Rivals : The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln right now.) It wasn’t all that long before that when the colonists fought to carve a new nation out of pieces of this continent and the British Empire. Lincoln himself personally met people like John Quincy Adams, third President of the United States. He knew people who had fought in the Revolutionary War.

But I digress. Somewhat.

It is definitely an even shorter time ago that I was a child, building — although I didn’t know it at the time — memories with Grandma.

I don’t remember much from my youth. But I do remember some good times spent at my grandmother’s houses in Florida. When she lived in Fort Lauderdale, I remember — and not just because I’ve seen it on old 8 or 16 mm home movies — playing some kind of “BeBop” game on her patio. Everyone is running around and we’re smacking these kind of giant tiddly-wink things with small plastic bats, trying to make them pop into the open mouth of a plastic frog, which, if we’re successful, will snap rapidly shut around its prize and send us all screeching backwards, as if we were about to be snatched up ourselves.

I remember spending a couple weeks here and there at her home in Jacksonville, “helping” her with her sewing. She was a self-employed seamstress, sewing slipcovers for mostly-wealthy clients in the Jacksonville area. I remember one time going with her to a home, watching her work and trying to stay out of the way. She always acted like we were actually helping her and she even took time to teach each of us to sew things ourselves, sometimes on the big industrial Singer sewing machine. I have that machine today, having been given it when Alzheimer’s finally prevented her being able to use it anymore. It’s an old workhorse, much like she was, and I mostly use it these days for sewing patches on leather motorcycle vests and jackets. The needle goes through the leather, as my wife might say, “like buh-dah.”

I remember staying up late with her, all of us collected into her bed while she sat there and crocheted or knitted — she taught us to do that, as well — watching Johnny Carson. How she loved him! We’d laugh and giggle and slowly, one by one, drop off to sleep.

Grandma always saved pennies for us in coffee cans. One of our main tasks each year was to take the coins and wrap them. Then it was off to the bank to exchange them for paper money. I think some of that money even ended up in savings accounts and that, along with the Savings Bonds she was fond of giving as gifts, constituted our first introduction to the frustrations of “money we couldn’t do anything with until we were older.” We’d sit, wrap coins and even drink sodas (one of the treats of getting to stay with grandma during the summer!) while we played Pokeno.

I don’t want to bore you with all these inchoate memories of life with grandma. It’s sad, though, to realize that memories are, like timetables, intangibles; a relationship to that which is past; the ghosts of what went before — and it all went too quickly.

Goodbye, Grandma. We’re all going to miss you.

Categories: Personal Life


6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Aunt Evie Horowitz Morabito // Dec 19, 2005 at 6:50 pm

    And I too remember your ‘grandmother’ with memories of yester-year………..may she rest in peace. G-D be with her.

  • 2 Bob // Dec 20, 2005 at 12:46 pm

    At times like these words often fail me. Please accept these.

    “And, when he shall die, Take him and cut him out in little stars, And he will make the face of Heaven so fine That all the world will be in love with night And pay no worship to the garish sun.”

    William Shakespeare


  • 3 Deb Harder // Dec 28, 2005 at 9:02 pm

    Well done. Gramma would be proud of you! I wish we could see her just once more to tell her how much we loved her. You can never say it enough. I love you Rick.

  • 4 Kirill Shpitsa // Mar 2, 2006 at 10:29 am

    I remember her too from my year in the US as an exchange student. A great woman with a lot of kindness in her soul. I recall my “host niece and nephew” (Breon and Monte) and her spending time together. I have also often joined them. At the age of 80 she was still driving her old car… Much water has flown since then…

  • 5 A Whiney Post // Sep 3, 2008 at 10:52 am

    […] I have attended three funerals; one of which, if you’re a regular reader here, was for my own grandmother and I spoke a few words at that one. In addition, my wife spent our vacation time on illness. And […]

  • 6 Hopping Along // Sep 3, 2008 at 10:53 am

    […] ← Goodbye, Grandma Scrambled Eggs […]

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