Sunday, August 9, 2015

Strawberry Shortcake

As promised, here is my daughter Talia’s eulogy for her Grandma. 

“All of my fondest memories of grandma take place at our family cottage, nestled in a dune on the shore of Lake Michigan. Though there are many other locations of joyful times together- the family reunions in Colorado, the yellow awning Florida house she grew up in, the pyramids of Egypt-  it is the cottage where I know Grandma’s heart remains and which has always been my happy place, the setting for innumerable childhood milestones, belly-aching laughter, and the warmth of family in the most tangible way.
Every summer, she was there. She was there with her perfectly applied lipstick and brushed hair and outfit ten times more stylish than my whole closet put together. Down to the matching bold turquoise jewelry and diamonds, diamonds, diamonds. She was there humming, always humming, while she trimmed off the dead gladiolas, shucked corn on the deck, or just sat in her swivel chair looking out at that iconic view, sighing, “My oh my, isn’t it a purty day” while she hooked her 100th elaborate rug-hooking. She was there in the back rom playing jazz standards and inviting me to sing along. She was there in the kitchen, per someone’s request making her famous crab stew, or napa cabbage salad, or strawberry shortcake (my personal favorite). She was there waving as we got off the plane. She was there offering doublemint gum every time we got in the car.
She was there when I was a baby, feeding me with a spoon, making the obligatory train noises. She was there when I was a toddler, tirelessly putting up with my tantrums and chasing me round and round the cottage. She was there when I was in elementary school, taking me to JC Penny’s for my back-to-school outfit and to my first manicure. She was there when I was in middle school, suffering away with a big smile on her face as she listened to me play my new saxophone. She was there in high school reminding me to sit up straight and doling out the compliments that all self-esteem lacking teenagers need. She was there in college, reading my papers, looking at pictures of my drab dorm room, engaging me in conversations about teaching as it was beginning to pique my interest, and hosting my boyfriend dutifully. She was there after college, listening to my stories of pieced together jobs, trying to keep up with who I was living with. And while I was in Argentina, she was there writing me beautiful letters in her immaculate cursive, which I would read over and over and tuck into an envelope for safe keeping before writing her back with my news. She was even there long after she didn’t want to be, but still smiling, still lipsticked, still putting out little bowls of nuts and holding my hand with surprising strength.
And now she is not there. And the world feels a little lonelier.
I will remember Grandma as an avid reader, as a fiercely loyal and devoted friend, as a visionary artist, as a talented story-teller, as a master of the cocktail hour, and, my personal favorite, as a rebel. I want to remember her smoking her pipe, speaking her mind, voting differently than her husband, and charming the pants off of everyone in the process. Grandma gave me her strength and, and for that, I’m forever thankful.”

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