Saturday, July 16, 2011


If you think I'm feisty, there's a place it came from.  If you think I'm independent (to a fault), it had to come from someone.  If you think I use the F word too much, someone taught it to me.

No story I can think of better illustrates all this than a trip to Florida--my parents, me, and my grandmother drove down when I was probably 10 (I remember the trip being in my parents' Volkswagen Rabbit, I'm told it was in my grandmother's Buick) and it MAY be the same trip from which there's this awesome picture of my paternal grandparents, Mom Mom, my mom, and me and I have this HUGE sourpuss on because I wasn't allowed to take the picture....  Anyway, Mom Mom stopped speaking to my parents.  I believe it was because my father packed the trunk wrong.  We stopped to eat lunch in Epcot during a big rainstorm, and Mom Mom sat outside, refusing to eat.  In the rain.  

As a newish mom of two, I struggled with juggling the two boys while M had fencing practices, meets, etc.  On the other hand, Mom Mom had her first child while my grandfather was away in the Pacific, and so raised him without his father for the first few years of his life.  Speaking of defying the norm, my grandmother has lived alone, a widow, for the past 24 years.

At a time when many women stayed home with their children, my grandmother worked in a GM factory making cars.  She continued to work there until she retired.  Taking a few years off, my grandmother went back to work at the Lenox outlet, and retired from there a few years ago when she became too frail to continue working.

The daughter of immigrant farmers, she stopped school in eighth grade, but went on to get her GED, all while working.  Education always seemed important to her, and I always felt that she was so proud to have two college educated children and three college educated grandchildren.  It always seemed to me that she took much pride that both her children and two of her grandchildren went on to study teaching.

Mom Mom delighted in my reading, and bought me all the Strawberry Shortcake books she could get her hands on when I was a kid.  We spent a lot of time together in the car, and she'd let me pick the radio station, blasting it since, after all, she couldn't really hear it anyway.

One of those times driving around, we passed a drive in movie theater, at which someone had changed the marquee around to include the "f" word.  I believe this was the first time I'd encountered the word, and she told me it was a bad one.  I don't remember much more about the event than that, but she gets credit for introducing me to the F Bomb.

When I was a little bit older, she took me to the movies often.  We saw Big, Roger Rabbit, Batteries Not Included, and I very much remember her taking me to the 11pm showing of Batman--she fell asleep in the theater.  How cool I, as a 13 year old, felt at the 11pm show!

Before you think it was all roses, Mom Mom and I fought.  A LOT.  We're both of the always right variety, so we'd argue and bicker over the right way to do things.  Most recently, over whether or not it was too cold for E to be barefoot.

She loves my boys like I just can't believe.  M and I knew something was wrong when she stopped calling every other day to speak to A, because it really felt like she was calling that often then suddenly, she wasn't calling at all.


I'm so happy I was able to help out while I was on maternity leave, taking her to the doctor's office, or even paying an occasional visit I wouldn't have been able to do had I been working.  While she loves seeing E, she seems to really adore A, who is able to talk to her, but unlike his Momma, doesn't talk BACK.

Well, I wrote all that a few days ago, when things weren't looking so good for Mom Mom.  She passed away on July 12th.  Today was her funeral.  It was so wonderful to see family and hear the stories about her, as well as the wonderful things she said about us.  I heard from her friends about how much she loved my boys, how smart they are, and what a good mom I am.  A cousin told me the story about how much she loved kids--that someone or another's kid wasn't walking, so Mom Mom stood the kid up and the kid took his first steps.  Another cousin told me that Mom Mom and Pop Pop drove up to her wedding in New York state and she brought a big pot of sauce with sausage and peppers "just in case you want a snack."

It makes me think that it's so sad we can't be at our own funerals.... Mom Mom would have loved the celebration of her life that happened today.  She would have loved seeing all the people who love her in one place at one time and she would have LOVED to be the center of attention.

So rest in peace, stubborn, feisty, always right Catherine.  Thank you for your love, generosity, and the love of driving.


C. Wright said...

What a heartfelt and poignant tribute to Mom Mom. Makes me miss my Grandma like crazy. My heart goes out to you.