Yesterday was Easter Sunday, the day before my birthday. Yesterday I got the call from my dad that my grandma (his mom) passed away. She never was one to make a fuss in life – this was no different. They had breakfast, Aunt Robin went upstairs to take a shower and when she came out Gram was gone. Just like that. She was 93, and her health wasn’t great. She’d told my sister she was tired of being old and sick, so when it was her time, she just up and went.
There was so much to love about my Gram. She was originally from Boston, and Maine being what it is, no one ever let her forget it – even though she lived there for over 70 years. She was still that woman from Boston. She raised three boys and helped run a farm, later ran River Bend Camps (ice fishing) in Bowdoinham. When the county went from RR to street names for the 911 implementation, they named her street Wallentine Road. She was a licensed pilot, and I flew with her many times in her Cessna Skyhawk II.
She drove herself to church every Sunday in the world’s ugliest old station wagon and never gave up on me going with her someday. I’ll always regret not going with her. She never pushed, but it would have meant so much to her. I have a throw pillow she made for me. It reads “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Beige, with a border of leaves and berries. I hold the pillow now and cry.
She came to my high school graduation. (She’s in the dress, my Grandma Jeanne is in the pantsuit. Funny, they did not communicate but showed up wearing the same color. We had a good laugh over that one!)
She also came to my wedding in Wisconsin. She came to my book signing at Borders in Brunswick – even bought a copy of Duality for Aunt Robin! She always supported my hopes and dreams, and she loved her great-grandchildren with a fierce pride. She was a total dog person, and had a veritable parade of golden retrievers that now rest in the pet cemetery in the woods behind her house. I hope Uncle Andy and Aunt Robin take care of Gram’s latest companion – he’ll be so lost without her.
She used to tell the funniest stories of the farm and my dad as a little boy. We used to love looking through the old family albums. She took me out to meet her parents before they died. Grandma and Grandpa Gavel. I’m glad she’s with them now – she missed them. The last time we were out there, she put together a family reunion and EVERYONE came – even my Uncle Doug, who I have no memory of. There’s pictures of him holding me as a baby, but I don’t remember him. I didn’t know hardly ANYONE there, but Gram never let me feel like an outsider. She made everyone feel welcome, and cherished.
She had a stubborn streak. She used to have terrible rows with Dad and Nana Buzz (my stepmom) but even when they didn’t see eye to eye, there was love. You still love family – even when they drive you nuts. Her one failing was she never accepted the fact that this born-and-bred Midwesterner was never a big seafood gal. She kept inflicting salmon patties and crab cakes and clam chowder with the ever-optimistic, “You’ll love it if it’s made right.” Proud of the fact I never told her that being made with love was no consolation – it was still all nasty! (Sorry, Gram – ugh!)
So R.I.P., Gran. A toast to your life and memory…another when we come home to Maine this August. Enjoy your eternal sunshine!