Grandma Sue was everyone’s grandmother. As my last remaining grandparent, it has been pretty difficult to attempt to say goodbye to her over the last few days. She had entered hospice in June, and of course, actually got BETTER for a few months. She was like that. A fighter. Fierce. Strong. But at some point, she was ready to go see my grandpa again, and now she’s there. When I told my kids that Grandma Sue was in heaven, the first thing Reid said was “well at least she gets to be with the man she married!” Sydney, of course, wanted to know when we get to visit heaven because she’d like to see where Grandma lives now. I’m sure the two of them are cutting coupons and newspaper articles together up there.
Grandma was a kindergarten teacher for many years. Her heart knew no bounds – she was a foster parent as well. To me, that is a big deal – to open up your home like that – but it was almost a footnote to her. Like, of course she loved these children, because that’s just what you DO. She was the ultimate Depression-era lady – she and Grandpa saved their money, never spending a dime on something that wasn’t absolutely necessary. And, sometimes, we had to remind her that you CAN spend money on necessities like new shoes and duct tape isn’t always the best solution.
She was a redcoat at Playhouse Square for years. I always thought it was so she could see all the shows – Grandma loved them – but then I found out that all the redcoats got free soft pretzels after the show and I knew the real reason for her job. Grandma loved a freebie like nobody’s business.
She grew up in Lakewood, where we live now. I will always feel close to her because she raised her family in the same city that I’m raising mine. Over the last few years, after we moved here, she and I would discuss the things going on in Lakewood – how the city is moving the Board of Education to the end of our street, how Reid goes to the same school that Grandpa did, how wonderfully diverse the city is. She was so proud of where she lived.
I remember sleeping over their house occasionally, and Grandma would always scratch my back as I fell asleep. It was SO wonderful – her hands were old and a little scratchy, and it always felt so good.
One of my favorite memories is when Kirk and I were dating. I had just graduated law school and started looking for an apartment in Cleveland, so Kirk and I were dating for about a year at this point. While at a family party, I asked Grandma if she had any household items for me (which I knew she did – she frequented the estate sales of her friends and neighbors). She asked where Kirk was living, if me living there was a possibility, and then she points her thumb to where he was sitting and yelled, “Well, is THIS going anywhere?!” I was so embarassed, but Grandma was just looking out for me. She loved Kirk, and he loved her right back. We always watched her hands while she was sitting – she would twiddle her thumbs almost all of the time.
My last real conversations with her were on Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. I said to her that someone we both knew got engaged and I felt like they were young. She laughed and told me all about her relationship with Grandpa, how young they were when they got married, and how she dealt with him being overseas during WWII. She felt SO alive to me then that it’s hard to believe a few months later, she isn’t here anymore. At Christmas, she made fun of my sister for being trendy and doing a charcuterie board on butcher paper instead of a platter. Grandma had a lot of opinions and wasn’t quiet about them.
My mom said to someone yesterday, “I keep asking my dad to come and get her.” Well, he finally heard the question and he followed through. After 70+ years of marriage (that is not a typo), I can only imagine the things they have to catch up on.
Grandma, you were the definition of a matriarch. The world feels a little less bright today, but I hope to carry on so much of what you gave me. Love, laughter, warmth, honesty, and back scratches. I love you.