Thursday, April 20, 2017

The world is different now

I've been missing blogging lately. Most of my blog-friends have made their blogs private now. And to be honest, I don't understand the medium anymore. I'm old I guess.

But I've blogged because writing is how I process things. Writing is how I make things make sense. I don't know if it's because I'm getting older now or just because I have a tendency to lean towards worry and fear—but lately, I think a lot about death and how scared I am.

Partly because my grandmother has aged in the most ungraceful way possible. Her dementia has caused her to be angry and stubborn, lash out on the people she loves most. And it has been slow, it's been a slow side getting worse and worse for the last 10 years.

She died today. And I'm devastated. As a child, I'd call her on the phone several times a week—calling collect and asking the operating to connect me to her. We'd talk for what seemed like hours as my mom would finish cleaning up in the kitchen. She was magic.

We used to imagine, when stuck in traffic, that we'd turn on our car's jet pack and just fly above everyone else. We'd imagine what it would be like if we could build a house for her next door because I missed her so much, that I just wanted to see her every day.

She'd tease me because I was fussy about what kind of food I liked, and I liked it just the way my mom did it. But really it hurt her, because she couldn't buy/get/produce that for me herself.

She made friends with every single shop owner and gas station attendee. And even though she hasn't driven in decades the gas station down the street connected my mom's last name with her's and went on and on about how wonderful she is.

Enough was never enough. More is more. More food. More surprises. More presents. More fun. More. More love.

She was my biggest cheerleader, saying how excited she was for me that I found a place I loved being in Australia while in the same breath asking me why I was leaving. She spoke in Jewish complements almost exclusively: You look amazing today, yesterday not so much; you look so thin, not like last time I saw you; or my favourite, (arriving at her house) you look great! So beautiful, (the next morning) you looked terrible last night, you look so much more rested and lovely now.

She made things happen. Like magic. She once surprised my older brother for his birthday, my parents had moved across the country for a few months and took my brother out for lunch for his birthday. When he arrived back home a big box was sitting on the floor and when he opened it out she jumped.

She was generous and opened her house to friends of friends and extended family. We always had enormous family reunions with both my mom's side and my dad's side (she's my dad's mom), and I didn't realise that was unusual until I was grown up. Having all my cousins, ALL my aunt and uncles in one place—I didn't even really consider that there were two sides of my family... it was just, family.

And we laughed. Her smile was contagious and she'd tell us incredible stories of when she was naughty when she was little, or when we said something silly we'd laugh hysterically until tears streamed down our faces.

She used to write what she'd call 'bad poems' as cards on gifts. The truth was they were amazing. I've saved heaps of them from when I was about 16—with incredible rhyming schemes and puns she'd link together my favourite things from horses to my childhood crush on John Cusack.

She was an activist. Working on local elections for candidates she believed in. And I wish I had talked to her more about it then. I wish I understood. Because now, I work on campaigns and I would love to talk to her about it, but by the time my career started, her dementia was too far gone.

Giving gifts brought her so much joy. Whenever you entered her house, there was Pooh present (you didn't know that the Easter Bunny and Santa Clause aren't the only mythical gift giving creatures? Winnie-the-Pooh gives the best gifts...) on your pillow in her house. Some of the gifts were... not good. I remember a particular pair of (very) expensive white capri pants with scenes from Paris on them: a French poodle parading underneath the Eiffel Tower.

Other gifts were like miracles. How did she know?! Magic happened. I was obsessed with Eloise growing up. I loved her wild adventures in the Plaza hotel. And for a special occasion, she took me to New York City to stay in the Plaza. The Plaza made a mistake and didn't have our reservation and she was able to get them to upgrade us to the honeymoon suite for one night. It felt like magic and like we'd gotten away with something naughty and mischievous... just like Eloise.

She was a giant personality that filled a room and brought people together. She hob-nobbed with famous politicians and as far as I know two of her biggest regrets were not going to college and declining to throw out the first pitch at a Red Sox game.

More food was always the answer. On Thanksgiving there would be 40 pounds of turkey for 12 people—four of whom were vegetarians. This was our biggest point of contention. I could see all the waste, and I hated it. But her more is more attitude on love and generosity and happiness ... those are things I hope I hold on to.


  1. I'm sorry for your loss my dear and am thinking of you

  2. I'm so sorry she's gone, and I know it must be hard to be far away right now. She sounds like an amazing woman. You were lucky to have had each other.

    1. Thank you. It is so hard being so far away. It's times like these when I ask myself... 'why did I make these choices again...'

  3. There are no good words for this. It's times like this that make living so far from "home" so difficult. It's my biggest fear (when it comes to living overseas). I wish you brevity in your grief and joy in your memories.