Friday, January 13, 2006

goodbye, grandma

A week ago today, one of the brightest lights in my life burned out.

She was 87 years young and feisty as a feral kitten to the very end. She always appeared to me to be completely invincible, though; so much so that I am still, a week later, even after seeing her lie cold and motionless in her casket and watching her hover above her own open grave, unable to reconcile myself with her passing. It's completely unreal to me. Utterly impossible that anything could take her. She was a fighter, a pillar of strength, and home to more people than even she could've ever imagined.

She buried both her parents, her husband, a brother, a sister, and a daughter. She grieved at a thousand funerals, and danced at a thousand weddings. She survived the Depression, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the drug-induced 60's, the free-thinking 70's, the recession, the fashion-challenged 80's, the Gulf War, the X-generation 90's, and even welcomed in the new millenium with a champagne toast. She saw the invention of plastics, desegregation, the television, the first man on the moon, the assasination of JFK, the destruction of the Berlin Wall, the first computer, the end of the Cold War, the first heart transplant, rap music, the cloning of animals, 9/11, and even did a little shopping on the internet.

She raised four remarkable children while moving all across the country, and played no small part in the development of 10 of the strongest, most independent and self-confident grandchildren the world will ever know. Her 9 great-grandchildren will all no doubt be blessed with her phenomenal spirit and inimitable sense of self. She could not be rattled -- even when she was wrong. She always stood her ground. Always had an answer for everything. And, yes, never let anyone see her sweat. She was unshakeable, even in her death. And I'm more certain now than ever that she was not taken; she left. Her body betrayed her and she could not convince it otherwise. But rather than lose the battle, she went on vacation. And, you know, that's just as it should be. She was always her best on vacation.

Grandma, we will miss your incredible smile, your eyes, your laugh, your hugs, and your kisses. We will miss your jokes, your malapropisms, your regaƱas, and your stories. We will miss playing Yahtzee and poker and Balderdash and Canasta with you. We will miss stocking you up with dimes for the slots. We will miss your eternally forgiving heart, your shoulder to cry on, and your no-nonsense, straight forward way of dealing with life. We will miss your carne guisada, your tamales (con pazas), your pan de polvo, and especially your chicharones.
"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body; but rather to skid in sideways, champagne in one hand, strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming WOO HOO - What a Ride!"
-Mavis Leyrer
Thanks for the ride, Grandma.
We'll miss you more than you'll ever know.


Sara said...

That was beautiful JoAnna; I shead a tear or 20 but which one of us wouldn't? I've heard that same quote before but instead of champagne and strawberries it was whiskey and ciggarettes :) Love you guys

Big Mama said...

Oh, I'm so sorry. Your tribute was wonderful. I only hope someone loves me and appreciates me as much as you did her. My condolences.