Goodbye Grandma: Hmm hmm hmm

Sad to report my grandmother (mom’s mom) just passed away.

She’d been fading for a few weeks but after 99 years she’s ready to go raise hell in heaven. Mom’s side lasts forever – I think it is the TB and polio that strengthened and thinned the herd.

Grandma was famous for her tri-tone prod of disapproval – no need to berate you – just a well-placed descending chromatic hum let you know that you may have done something she didn’t approve of but there was no need to be as gauche as to verbalize it.

A self-described ‘simple country girl from N’Albany,’ she got married in the middle of the Depression (they came home from the honeymoon and all the banks had closed) and started a luxury business in the middle of it all (jewelry – now run by Uncle George).

Agnes was the original bad ass matriarch. She may have stayed at home to raise kids but she had her pulse on the family business and was always ready for dancing and drinks at the K of C. And she sacrificed for her family. I think of her huge family, childhood homes burning down, being raised by nuns, siblings dying of TB… all of those things. She was titanium wrapped in a Oil of Olay and rose petals shell.

And the work ethic. When Heather and I would spend the weekend at their house we’d be reading a book and laying on the bed. Andy are you sleepy do you need to take a nap? (Because why would anyone ever sit on a bed if they weren’t intending to sleep?) Same for taking a nap on the couch. (Couches aren’t for sleeping. They are for sitting.)

Grandma’s birthday was the day before mine and we always got to blow out the candles on the cake together. Well cakes. She liked coconut on her cake. I liked chocolate on mine. I was the youngest of 17 grandkids.

I always remember her and grandpa dancing on the ballroom floor during their 50th anniversary party. Simplicity and elegance and they may have fought like crazy sometimes but they were so in love – for better – for worse – the whole shebang.

And I swear she had a white phone in that back room because when she prayed, stuff happened. Never ever make light of Novenas – that stuff is Christ-craft.

Towards the later years when she was still verbal we always challenged her with a goodbye ‘I love you.’ For years she could only bring herself to say, ‘Well you know the feeling’s mutual.’ But finally she gave in to the warm fuzzies and would say, ‘Well I love you too.’

I had a minor cry last night – mostly worried for mom and dad. I know this can be very draining for them.

Oh and she cleaned windows and the glass cases of the family jewelry business with pure ammonia. Because Windex is for wusses.

Not to mention the can of lard next to the sink. Though she liked her toast brown – her husband liked it blackened – encased in carbonite. And we won’t even talk about the gravy ladle.

Oh and she always voted Democrat. Unlike her husband who always voted Republican. Except for Kennedy I think. She did like Nancy Reagan and had the Kitty Kelley book as well as the Jackie O biography on the table next to her. JFK’s picture was on the wall  next to a picture of Jesus, a cross and palms from the most recent Palm Sunday knotted into a cross.

Unshakable faith. The only time I saw her cry was when her husband was first brought to a long term care center and we hugged her out in the hallway as we heard him shout ‘I don’t want another needle,’ in the room nearby.

But make no mistake. Mom’s side does funerals up right (everyone has pre-arrangements and jokes that It is too bad you won’t be around to see how it’ll turn out). If there’s anything they do better than a wedding is a funeral. We’re talking Coppola, folks. Without the pasta.

More memories are coming to me – one our favorite phrases she’d use would be when she’d see the news or hear of some gross injustice or malfeasance and she’d turn the TV off in disgust and declare ‘You gotta have watchdogs!’

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About Andy

Gay Hoosier Taurus INFJ ex-playwright pianist gymbunny published author in San Francisco. Tw · Fb

15 thoughts on “Goodbye Grandma: Hmm hmm hmm

  1. Maryam Webster

    Andy, arms and white light around you…your grams sounds a bit like mine in the can of lard, gravy ladle, Dem/Rep split marriage and unshakable faith. When Mimi prayed, God stopped in his tracks and reversed rivers in their beds, it was said. Those old ladies had it going on, no doubt. Blessings to her and to you, my friend…

  2. Austin

    She is still quite alive, Andy.
    She lives every time you and your family thinks of her.
    Beautiful entry. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  3. big sis

    I thought there were 15 grandkids (Pat, Chris, Kelly, Pam, Laura, Lisa, Lynn, Libby, Michael, Mark, Paul, Maria, – wait – missing one of Joyces. . . ).

    I was reading stories from the memory book we did for mom and dad a few years ago and thinking of her porcipine balls and cottage cheese dishes.

    Miss Agnes is not asleep – she’s just “resting her eyes”

    hmmm hmmm hmmm

  4. Susan L Reid - of Alkamae

    Your grandmother sounds like she was a spitfire, and probably having one hell of a time where she is now!

    Do her up right at the wake by celebrating her life, and hold tight to family and friends while you suffer her loss.

  5. JB

    Awww, that’s so sad but with such happy memories. Can’t think where the quotes from, but: She’s gone to a better place, and if it isn’t better she’ll damn well make it that way.

  6. Maria

    Beautifully put Andy, so sorry for your loss, sounds like she will be greatly remembered, and deeply missed. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I love you all…

  7. Your cousin Lynn

    Fifteen grandchildren, don’t forget David, Andy and Heather. She was an amazing woman, a pillar of faith and strength, stubborn but never mean. Her funeral today will be a celebration of her life and the love we all have for her and how she will live on in the hundreds of stories and loving memories we will all carry with us and pass on to our children.

  8. Jake

    Anyone who leaves such a legacy of memories and stories and love lived a good life. I’m sorry for your family’s loss, but it sounds like you are all richer for having her in your lives … especially for so long.

  9. Sydney

    Aww Andy, I’m really sorry. It looks like you were fortunate to have your life enriched by your grandparents much longer than most. Me too. Its very special to have them around for so long, but its difficult when they leave,
    Syd

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