My grandmother died last week. She passed peacefully in the arms of her eldest son and many friends had been there to see her that day. We all wished there could have been more time together, but her passing was benign and gentle, all things considered.
I had the good fortune of visiting her only a few days before. She wasn’t able to say much, though I could tell that she loathed being in her state of weakness.
Her face was stoic as ever. We often called her “The Sarge,” though she carried that authority with a quiet and stern presence. The pride of her German ancestors coursed through her veins even then, despite a body that faltered.
I didn’t really know what to say at first. I had never seen her so vulnerable before. We tried to discuss anything besides the maladies that confined her to that bed. I talked about my advancement at work, how I had survived cycling through a massive storm that plunged the whole region into darkness for several days.
She worried about me. I would later find out at the funeral that she had greater concern for me than I realized. Apparently, there’s a large trust set aside for the purchase of a self-driving car; whenever that technology becomes fully matured. She wanted to be sure that I had every opportunity to make a difference in this world, despite my physical handicap.
Grandma knew about Catherine; not all the details about our romance, but well aware of that deadly encounter three years ago. She never confronted me about my relationship. The whole concept was likely ridiculous to her and I don’t blame her for feeling that way. We’ve never seen eye-to-eye on everything, as we’re both rather hard-headed.
She still treated me with the utmost respect and concern. Even when I battled my uncle about religion, she could see that it was really me making those points, not some possessing demon. Though she disagreed with my conclusions, she encouraged my strong position, insomuch that it was solid and well defended.
I spent so much time talking with her about politics, religion, social issues, and history. That woman had a formidable intellect, though she was always modest about it. Her humor was dry, yet sophisticated and tasteful.
Highborn, is the word that might best encapsulate her personality. My uncle described how she often looked akin to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in her younger days, with the commanding presence to boot. She was not born rich by any means, but her attitude was one of quiet aristocracy. She later became rich through her own hard work, and achieved even greater things when joining forces with her husband.
When my education was severely faltering during my elementary school days, my grandparents took me into their home so that I could attend a private school, not far from where they lived. It was Grandma who spent many nights tutoring me through grammar, history, and mathematics. She is the one who resuscitated my intellect and placed me firmly on the path towards scholarship.
I wish I could have known my grandparents when they were younger. They led such interesting and hardworking lives.
Grandpa is gone, too. He passed a few years ago. I’m going to miss both of my grandparents very much.
Oh, there’s an additional facet to my inheritance: Three little volumes for the teaching of an Entered Apprentice into the Ancient Order of Free and Accepted Masons. And a massive tome covering the history of American Freemasonry. I don’t know if I will actually join that fraternity, but the knowledge will be of use either way.