October 28, 2011


At 3:30 yesterday morning a hospice volunteer entered my grandmother's room and played the viola for an hour. Then my grandmother died.

My grandmother - named Ruth or Carol depending on who you ask (long story) - was the most interesting person I ever met. She was captain of her college bowling team at age 64, was a vegetarian before I ever existed, and donated her body to science. In fact, her body was claimed by the local university yesterday afternoon.

My grandmother was 99 years old. She was pretty with it for 96 of those years. She lost her husband when she was 49 and remarried a bike-riding shoe salesman years later. Her father was a gambler and con man. She gave me his pen which was the only thing that was left behind after he was abducted and killed.

My grandmother knitted obsessively and collected a pile of stuffed animals for my children long before I had children or even a wife. She would take pictures of the backs of people's heads because the backs of people's heads were the most photographically neglected part of any clothed person. She was clumsy and she never learned to ride a bike.

My grandmother used to send me gingerbread men in the mail. I'd always call her when it arrived and report just how badly broken it was. It was a game we had. When she visited - she lived in California and didn't fly so that was rare - we'd walk an hour to the store and back to buy gingerbread men that didn't break.

I miss my grandmother. But I have for a while. I wish my kids had been able to meet her. And I wish I'd known her better myself. I miss broken gingerbread men.

Posted by Chris at October 28, 2011 8:05 AM

Oh man, I am sorry you lost her. but those are some wonderful memories of her and I know when you tell your kids those stories, they'll love them too.

Posted by: Claire at October 28, 2011 8:20 AM

So sorry for your loss. It sounds like she was a great lady who marched to her own beat...a trait passed to your daughter? Stop at the bakery and enjoy a gingerbread man for her.

Posted by: DeLurking Di at October 28, 2011 8:46 AM

Sorry to hear about your Grandmother Chris, but hopefully her longevity is genetic! Funny you mention bowling, my last surviving grandmother (who died several years ago) was a world class bowler with a 300 game to her credit.

Now that I'm out of living grandmothers, I regret not getting to know them better when I had the chance.

Posted by: COD at October 28, 2011 9:12 AM

So sorry for your loss, Chris. Peace to you!

Posted by: Maribeth at October 28, 2011 9:15 AM

I'm sorry for your loss. That was a life well-lived.

Posted by: Alison at October 28, 2011 9:24 AM

So sorry Chris...she sounds amazing! Makes me miss my grandmothers. They give us the best memories.

Posted by: cyndy at October 28, 2011 9:29 AM

It's been just over a year since I lost my Granny, and I still miss a lot of the little things too. Your grandmother sounds like she was a wonderful lady. I'm sorry for your loss.

Posted by: Heather at October 28, 2011 9:42 AM

I'm sorry for your loss, Chris. She sounds AMAZING. I wish I could've met her, too.

Posted by: Julie at October 28, 2011 10:21 AM


I am so sorry for your loss. Grandmothers are very special people.


Posted by: Jean at October 28, 2011 10:36 AM

Eventhough your children didn't get to know your grandmother, they will know her through the eyes of your memory. You are blessed to have had her in your life. And she was blessed to have you in hers.

Posted by: bacioni at October 28, 2011 10:38 AM

Wow - what a lady and what a life! I agree with Di above - I think some gingerbread men are in order! Peace to you and your family...

Posted by: Sue R at October 28, 2011 10:40 AM

My condolences Chris. She sounds like she was an awesome woman.

Posted by: Heather at October 28, 2011 10:51 AM

Sorry for you loss. It sounds like you have some great memories of her though!

Posted by: Nicole at October 28, 2011 10:55 AM

Very sorry to read this, sounds like she was an amazing lady.

Posted by: Katherine at October 28, 2011 12:31 PM

I am really sorry for your loss. She sounds like she was a wonderful woman.

Posted by: sarah at October 28, 2011 12:58 PM

So sorry for your loss Chris!

Posted by: kali at October 28, 2011 12:58 PM

I'm sorry for your loss, sounds like we all should have known her! I'll look for a gingerbread man somewhere today.

Posted by: Busy Mom at October 28, 2011 1:23 PM

So sorry for your loss, Chris. A long and well lived life and very fond memories is a great thing. This was a beautiful tribute to your grandmother. My grandfather is 86 and I'm grateful every year that he's still kicking.

Posted by: One Mom's Opinion at October 28, 2011 3:31 PM

I'm so sorry for your loss. It sounds like she was one hell of a lady.

Posted by: Dawn at October 28, 2011 4:54 PM

I'm so sorry for your loss. It sounds like you had a wonderful grandmother.

Posted by: seeking elevation at October 28, 2011 6:43 PM

so sorry to hear that such a wonderful person will be missed. glad to hear she's no longer just "here". :( my grandmothers were both the same way, makes me so sad :(

Posted by: kati at October 28, 2011 9:14 PM


I have two 98-year-old grandothers. That's insane. A couple of years ago, I was sitting with one of them and we did the usual old grandma/grandson thing, where she asks me questions about my family, I give information, and she smiles with a blank stare. This time, though, she said, "I did well in life. I put my three children through college. I did a good job," which was the most personal thing she's ever told me.

We forget the real person because we're so used to playing our roles. Looks like you broke free of that. You should be proud of knowing the real person that was your grandmother.

Posted by: BloggerFather at October 29, 2011 9:55 AM

It sounds like hers was a life fully lived, which in the end is a worthy aspiration for any of us. My grandmother's 91 and has buried two husbands (she didn't actually wield the shovel) and seen pretty much everything. She mostly sits around now by virtue of a squirrelly hip and macular degeneration, but doesn't feel like she's missing much because throughout her life, she missed nothing. Getting old sucks, but wasting time on the journey toward getting there sucks much worse.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at October 29, 2011 1:57 PM

I'm very sorry for your loss. She sounds like she was a fascinating and her idea of photographing the back of people's heads is charmingly genius. My condolences.

Posted by: azita at October 29, 2011 2:11 PM

I'm so sorry Chris. You are incredibly lucky to have had a grandmother that long. Lost both of mine when I was 13. I regretted that I never got the chance to do anything for them once I became old enough to drive or be on my own. Sounds like your grandmother was an awesome person, with great stories. Cherish the memories.

Posted by: mmpotter at October 29, 2011 8:05 PM

Sorry to hear that, she does indeed sound interesting and the type of person most could have learned a thing or two from:) My grandmother is in her 80s and she stated the other day that things are great, but she hopes she does not live long enough to where she starts to "bitch all the time!" I love that woman, the safest place to me when I was a kid was in her home. I miss that. Peace to you and yours~

Posted by: Shannon at October 30, 2011 12:26 AM

I'm sorry for your loss it sounds like a life well lived.

Posted by: Nat at October 30, 2011 1:04 PM

I am so sorry for your loss. It sounds like she was a fantastic lady and I think it's wonderful you have such great memories of her; I hope my grandkids think so highly of me when I'm 99. I hope you continue the gingerbread men tradition with your grandkids.

Posted by: Carmen at October 30, 2011 7:51 PM