Sunday, November 22, 2009

Losing a Loved One

My grandma passed away yesterday. The "Cookie Granny" as she was affectionately called, would have been 92 years old on December 24th. She suffered from Alzheimer's Disease and eventually succumbed to pneumonia and kidney failure. She obviously wasn't her true self for the last five or six years because of the Alzheimer's, but I avoid thinking of her in those terms and try to remember her the way she was when I was a kid. This post is a tribute to my granny. . . Emelia Robinson.

First of all, I was named after her. . . my middle name, that is. I inherited her love of Cubs baseball and playing cards--especially rummy. My sister and I used to play with my grandpa and my cousins, betting everything from jelly beans and Hershey's kisses to packs of baseball cards. She had an infectious laugh that, it seems, my sister, aunts, and cousins have inherited. . . but not me. I laugh like my mom. :)

Granny loved to work in the garden and go on long walks with Grandpa. They used to get up every morning before dawn and walk for miles and miles. She also used to drink that instant coffee stuff, like Cafe Francais and Swiss Mocha. (I can't stand coffee at all, but my sister started drinking that with Granny when she was younger. I used to tell her that it would stunt her growth. . . was I right? I mean she's barely 5'1.)

Granny was a tough woman. Grandpa always told stories about the first time he met her. . . when she was working in the fields or carrying 50 lb sacks of grain to the feed the animals. She grew up just outside of Chicago, Illinois until her family moved to rural Washington state. Granny was the oldest of 11, and really helped raise some of her younger siblings. Her native language was Lithuanian and we always tried to get her to teach us some phrases--although she'd say she lost most of it and could only remember how to count. As the Alzheimer's got bad, some of the Lithuanian language came back to her. She could sing songs that her dad had taught her, that had probably been locked up in the back of her mind for over fifty years.

Finally, I will always remember my granny's cooking, baking and quilting abilities. Nobody could bake a cake, a pie, or a batch of cookies like Grans. Part of that is a granddaughter's bias, but she did win first prize at the county fair for everything from her sheet cake to her "crack cookies." And I also have some blue ribbons she won for quilts over the years. I will treasure the three Granny-Originals that she gave me when I was younger. One of the saddest days was when she had to admit that she couldn't see well enough to continue with the fine quilting detail and "retired" from her sewing machine.

Anyway, it's a sad day for the family, but I will cherish the memories forever.