It’s better to burn out than to fade away.

My grandmother passed away today.

She was 95 years old. Living her whole life in Mississippi, she lived through the Great Depression, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Era. Went from seeing horse and buggies on the streets to men landing on the Moon. She worked her entire life with one job at THE telephone company (in those days there was only one), drove the same cars for decades, lived in a quiet modest home. She traveled extensively all over the country as evidenced by her delightfully kitschy “Destination” spoon and plate collections. She knitted her own doilys, crocheted her own afghans, and played the piano. Until she was almost into her 90’s she lived independently, still cooking Christmas and Thanksgiving (I loved her date loaf and cornbread stuffing. She also made home made pudding just the way I make it.)
We would all gather at her house for Christmas and exchange gifts in a tradition that all our families still carry on in our own homes. When my own mother became ill and my father passed away, she let us live with her til we could become settled into our new home, already in her 70’s. Even though I was in my 30’s I still got a $20 bill every year for my birthday from her. I still have almost every birthday and Christmas card she has ever sent me.
Although we always told half-truths and bold face lies about what was happening in our lives so that it gave off the appearance that everything was fine, so that she wouldn’t sit in her rocking chair and worry, this woman was worldly enough to know that things weren’t always kosher, and could be just as sneaky and devious as the rest of us.
Last month she fell in her assisted living home, on her way to fetch herself a Hershey’s bar and a Coke. When she took a turn for the worst, we all rushed to her side, but before I left her, she was asking for her hair brush so she could look nice for her doctors. She said that she had only been in the hospital three times in her life. The birth of her two children and this time when she fell.

She finally passed away today after being attacked by a bear. The bear didn’t kill her, merely weakened her so that the Kurgan could finally take her head.

There can be only one…


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