154: Playing with the Big Boys

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Last week one of the web cartoonist I follow took a three day long break to eulogize her grandmother, which got me thinking about my own recently deceased maternal grandmother, who was pretty amazing.

Being the second daughter of her youngest child, by the time I knew her she was already old. One could probably fill a book with all the stuff she'd done when she was younger, but I knew her as the grandma who took our measurements and sent us hand made summer dresses most years and mailed giant batches of mondel bread and mun cookies, which were stale on arrival, but still delicious and lasted for months. What I remember most about her was the letters. I started getting into correspondence when I was ten and wrote to every relative I could think of, Grandma Gert was the only one who wrote back quickly and kept doing so for the next 22 years of my life. She wrote colorful letters about who she was visiting and what she was getting up to. I once asked what countries she had visited and got an entire typed card filled with exotic names. For her 80th birthday she went on a safari in Africa and only stopped traveling at 95 when she fainted in Russia and her children asked her to stop going places where she needed a visa. Because of the fainting, they insisted she stop driving and when a hurricane destroyed her apartment, she grudgingly agreed to go into assisted living. The place gave rooms on floors designated by required level of care. 1 was needing the most care. Grandma lived on the top floor. She quickly started learning Bridge, joined a Wii bowling league and took it upon herself to organize their library with her retired librarian skills. At age 98, she walked down the aisle at my wedding, under her own power, with no assistance from the intimidated groomsman at her side. She passed away at age 100 this April, still sharp as a tack, still with all her teeth in her head and with the aplomb of a lady. She left behind four children, over a dozen grandchildren and half a dozen great-grandchildren. My generation is brimming with people named for her late husband and I expect my children's generation will be overflowing with people named for her. Certainly, when my husband and I have kids, the first one will be named after her!