Five years ago, one of my college roommates was getting married in Miami, and with my grandparents (at the time) living just a bit north of there, it became an opportunity to visit them and (more importantly) to introduce them to Sunnia for the first time. She was nervous, and even I was a bit nervous, though I knew my grandparents would make her feel right at home. They did much more than that. My grandmother and my (future) wife bonded immediately. Despite there being nearly 60 years difference in age, being born on different continents, having different native languages and cultural backgrounds, the two of them bonded as if they had known each other forever (much to my own detriment at times). The two of them both have a mischievous joking side, and they would kid each other — and (more frequently) team up to make fun of me together.
Two and half years ago, I was thrilled that my Grandma Rose (with Grandpa Sid) was able to fly out to California for our wedding. You could see how thrilled (of course) she was to share that experience with us.
Two and half weeks ago, my travels took me to New York on my way to Europe for work, and I was able to stop by and visit them (since they had moved back to New York from Florida a few years ago). My friend Yuval picked me up from the airport and we drove up to Queens. Grandma was (as always) happy to see me, and thrilled to play host. She caught us up on family stuff and then spent time showing Yuval around the apartment, including scrapbooks of all my grandfather’s crafts and her own needlepoints. Then she gave us a tour of “the museum” as she called it — having put up a bunch of her old photos — including photos of her own (and my grandfather’s) grandparents.
She was her usual self, and what I remember most was her laughing and joking about the way Sunnia had informed Grandma of her pregnancy — doing a pitch-perfect mimic of Sunnia’s joking phone call and then roaring with laughter about how amusing it was.
Later my sister Amy and my cousins Jenny and Jason along with their kids came by and we had a really wonderful time.
Two days ago my Grandma Rose passed away.
It was her 69th wedding anniversary.
I’m typing this at 33,000 feet flying over Utah on my way to New York, having just returned from there a week ago. What had been planned as a quiet four day weekend with Sunnia has now turned into an unfortunate rushed return to New York for a funeral. Amazingly, despite the Thanksgiving weekend, we were able to get flights (and not even middle seats — though Sunnia’s sitting 13 rows behind me right now, and we’re returning on different flights).
A year and a half ago, for her 90th birthday, the six cousins who made up Grandma Rose’s grandchildren all told stories about her. I posted mine here. What became clear (even though we all knew it already) was that the biggest thing that came through in every story, was about her love of her family and her ability to keep us all together and as a close knit group, even as we all lived our own lives in different places around the country.
Seeing as it’s Thanksgiving, it seems only appropriate to give thanks for everything that Grandma Rose gave to us as a family over the years, through mostly good times and the occasional bad times. From being able to raise her three daughters, including my mom and her twin sister while my Grandfather was off fighting a war to passing on (not always wanted or appreciated) advice and wisdom to all her children, children-in-law, grandchildren and now great grandchildren, Grandma was always at her best being the glue that held the family together.
Grandma taught us all a lot about love and the importance of family — and while there’s plenty to be sad about today, there’s so much to be thankful for as well, for all that she gave to her family and shared with us over the years.