I had a post all prepared for today about the finale of LOST, but some real life also happened this week. My grandmother (my dad’s mom) passed away Wednesday night at the age of 86. She passed quietly in her sleep in her hometown of Tennessee and will be buried tomorrow. Unfortunately, because of the short notice and exorbitant travel fares/lousy lousy flight schedules I won’t be able to attend.
My grandma has been a widow for longer than I have been alive. Her husband died before I was born from emphysema. She was a five hour drive from home and all of my dad’s family lives in her hometown so we’d visit a few times a year. When I got a bit older my parents would occasionally leave us for a week or two in the summer to spend some time alone with the family (and hey, free babysitting for them!). Those years I didn’t quite get my gramma. She was a good old fashioned Southern (pronounced Suuuthuuun) Methodist lady. She had very strict ideas on things that were lady-like. I was often not those ideas. She wasn’t like my mom’s mom – that gramma taught me how to play gin and was all about junk food. And one time I got to go to a fancy adult dinner party at a house with a pool and when I was sad I couldn’t swim because I hadn’t brought a swim suit they let me swim IN MY DRESS. Totally. Awesome. But she was my gramma and I loved her. I did like that gramma had a thing for Wendy’s, especially Frostys. Every time I went to visit her, one of the special things we would do is go to Wendy’s and get Frostys.
Then when I was, oh, 8th or 9th grade, she all of a sudden up and decided to get involved with the local community theatre. The theatre run by *whisper* New York gays. SHOCKING. I mean, my prim and proper grandmother was becoming an actress. The woman who couldn’t remember things was now learning lines. For some serious roles. Like Miss Daisy. And the Hepburn lead in On Golden Pond. Red Riding Hood’s grandmother in Into the Woods. MY GRANDMOTHER. The woman whose family name is engraved on the church pillars. The woman who always wanted me to wear a slip and stockings and a skirt with Mary Janes and shirts with Peter Pan collars.
Some of her friends literally thought she’d lost it. They thought my grandpa was rolling in his grave. An ACTRESS? Even worse – she was hanging out with a liberal east coast gay couple half her age. THEY WENT TO EUROPE TOGETHER. Lawdy lawdy.
And that’s when it hit me – my gramma was totally freaking AWESOME. After that I realized, you know, she’s an old Southern lady and all that, but she’s been single since the 1970s and has totally been living on her own for all those years. That’s pretty rad. And was totally fine with hanging out with a middle aged gay couple. I mean, I know young people out here in the People’s Gaypublic of Druggifornia (thanks, 30 Rock, for that nickname) that wouldn’t be down with that. I started talking to gramma more after that – turns out she was really well educated for a woman her age. Went to college. Graduated. Ran the family business (a funeral home). Was really active in the community. Used to deliver food for Meals on Wheels. Basically, she was an excellent woman that I was proud to call my gramma.
When it was clear she was starting to be a little less sharp, she made the decision herself to sell her big house and move into a retirement/private care community. This was really a hard choice for her – she’d been independent for so long. When I asked her to tell me about the place I said “Well gramma, it sounds a lot like my college dorm!” And she said “You’re right, it is like a co-ed dorm. Maybe I’ll meet a rich older man there!” Atta girl!
The last time I saw her was in 2002. It was after I had gotten married and we were in to visit the whole family and have a little wedding BBQ (since I got married abroad and we didn’t have a reception). She was living in her “dorm” and was starting to confuse people. She knew me, and remembered my husband, which actually kind of surprised me since she’d not met him more than once or twice. She was always a little confused by the friend we had with us, but, frankly, he confuses me too and I DO know him. The nurse who was on duty told me that gramma hadn’t been eating much and asked if we could try to get her to eat lunch. I sent the boys to Wendy’s to pick up some food. Wouldn’t you know I got her to eat a whole burger, fries, and a Frosty? That’s my girl.
So… I loved my gramma but 86 years is a pretty good run. She’s had a great life and, though she’ll be sorely missed by many many people, I am ok with letting her go. I’ve got a lot of great memories and photos to cherish for my lifetime.
As for LOST, read this EW article about the DVD set and then you must, MUST watch the video. It’s all kinds of awesome. Like my gramma.