She left us 12 days before her 102nd birthday. She was cosseted and loved until the very end, surrounded by family, in familiar environs. She was cogent and very much herself, reminding her daughter-in-law that reaching her next birthday "was never a goal!"
She was ready to go and she went. It was her time, and, like G'ma, it's sad rather than tragic. But there's a hole where she existed that won't be easily filled.
There are lots of holes, in fact.
She played bridge with the children of the women with whom she formed the group, decades ago. They drove her to the games and helped her fan out her cards, but she beat them all on her own.
She was Gram to two girls who doted on her... and she returned the favors, in spades. Her pride, her joy, her love and concern were written in Sharpie boldness on her face. Her voice took on a different cadence when she was bragging on her grandkids; had I heard about nursing school and teaching English in the Far East and the impact her girls were making in the world? She was never without a story to prove that her grands were the grandest.
It was easy to agree; I've known them all their lives. Their fascination with others, their open acceptance, their eagerness to grow and share their new found knowledge, their interest in the world around them.... it was all there in their Gram.
I met her in graduate school, when her son took us home for a real meal. She greeted us with cocktails and a table cloth and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. No one had treated me that well in ages, and there she was, feeding me and wondering why I'd chosen UofChicago and what I hoped to do with my education and where I grew up and would I be willing to stay and see the pictures of their latest trip.... and I was in love.
The love never faded.
She was in charge of her own existence, widowed and alone but not diminished. She made her presence known. She took the condominium's shuttle to the hairdresser when she gave up her car; I can't imagine her looking anything short of elegance.
As Not-Kathy said on her Facebook post, "I wanted to be her when I grew up."
So did I. I'm still trying. And, in that, she will always be here.