There is a generation, one that is quickly disappearing, that witnessed more changes than any humans in history. We need to appreciate all they lived through. Here’s a eulogy to one of them.
My Grandma was born June 12, 1919 in Miles City, Montana. She was a granddaughter, daughter, cousin, friend, Wife, Mom, Grandma, and a Great Grandma. She lived 89 years…she did good. The year Grandma was born there was a Boston molasses disaster, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution authorizing prohibition was ratified, the World War I Paris Peace Conference opened, there was an Estonian War of Independence, Bentley Motors was founded in England, Soviet troops occupied Ukraine, the Seattle General Strike began, the Polish-Soviet War began, Oregon placed a one cent per gallon tax on gasoline, the Grand Canyon National Park was established, and that was all in the 1st two months of 1919! In the month she was born, the U.S. Congress approved the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which would guarantee suffrage (the right to vote gained through the democratic process) to woman.
No other generation has seen and gone through as many changes as hers. She lived through the Great Depression, 2 world wars, she saw the unfolding of the Holocaust, the Korean and Vietnam War, the Cuban missile crises, the desert wars, and 9/11. She lived through the cold war and saw Russia break up into separate countries and become friends of the United States. She watched the rebirth of Israel as a country and it’s short wars. She saw the Berlin Wall fall, President Kennedy, Senator Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King assassinated.
She witnessed the birth of TV and the evolution of radio and saw movies go from silent, to sound, to color. Think of all the changes in cars, phones, communication, entertainment, transportation, maps, boarders, medicine, and technology she witnessed. She lived through the birth and growth of the computer and creation of the Internet and saw encyclopedias go from being sold by men door to door to being obsolete and replaced by electronic versions and then by the Internet. She viewed Kennedy’s challenge to the United States to go to the Moon and watched the 1st man walk on the moon.
So many things she witnessed 1st hand that I read about in history books and on the Internet. She saw Elvis Presley rise and fall, and the Beatles, and so much more. So much change she witnessed during her 89 years here, more than any other generation has gone through.
My Grandma loved to travel and gave me a love of adventure. I have great memories of all the trips she took me on. We rarely made reservations, but would just pack up and go and hit the road in her little blue Datsun B210. I can still hear that little engine. She took me to Palm Springs, Laguna Beach, Santa Barbara, Catalina Island, Carmel, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier Park, Zion, Las Vegas, and Laughlin to name a few of our favorites. She could have saved her money and gone to more exotic places, but lucky for me instead she chose to take me on trips all over.
My Grandma and I had great times on these trips, though at times I was a challenge. She tried to turn me into a lady. I tended to embarrass her sometimes, though it was never on purpose, it was just by accident and by being myself. It was our generation gap, when hers cared so much about what others thought, while mine tried so hard to not care what others thought.
When I was little, maybe 5, and she was driving her classic 1960’s mustang, we were rear ended in it. I remember hopping over the seat into the back and a police officer coming over, leaning into the window and asking if we were all right. While my Grandma was replying that it was just her and her granddaughter and that we were mostly ok, I popped up and enthusiastically let them know loudly “Grandma your wig fell off!” She practically drove us out from under the officer, I remember her racing home. I didn’t realize that could be embarrassing, I was just trying to be helpful.
Another time embedded in my memory, my Grandma took my friend Christy and I out to eat. I got into a deep belly aching laughing hysteria and the more I laughed, it made me laugh more. Well my Grandma came from an era where you are not loud in a restaurant and you definitely behaved yourself. She kept asking me to be quiet, but I was in a downward contagious laugh spiral. She finally burst out, “Wendy, be a damn lady!” I was young but old enough to understand the oxymoron and I lost it even more. Boy did I howl! I cried, I barked, I gasped, and I couldn’t stop. She sure put up with a lot, but she did keep coming back for more. She loved me very much.
My Grandma came from an era where… well lets just say they had a purse thing. She carried it with her everywhere. Marianne and my Mom remember her …I kid you not… going waist deep into the pool and yes with her purse, tucked in high on her arm. She did this in the ocean too. Would wade right in, but not without her purse. She carried it around in the house from room to room. It used to drive us batty, but that was her thing.
If you hung out with my Grandma, sooner or later you heard about Esaybrio. She loved to go down to Mexico with her cousins and friends and go dancing and listen to the Mariachi bands. Who was this Esayberio guy that they all went on and on about? They ALL loved him and raved about the times they spent down in Mexico.
My Grandma always talked about how much she loved dancing. My Mom says it was ballroom dancing. I remember she said Desi Arnez asked her out once while they were all out dancing, but she thought he was a ladies man and said no. She was beautiful with blond hair and gorgeous blue eyes.
She loved tennis and used to take me to play when I was growing up. Later, she came to love golf and loved to watch Tiger Woods. She also loved to watch the game shows, the price is right, Wheel-of-fortune, and All My Children. My Mom and Dad loved the dichotomy of how she could hate sex scenes on TV and tish-tish them, yet eagerly watch the Young and Restless and all the torrid affairs and crazy lives. I remember they used to hate that show, then they secretly started watching it with her, and now they openly confess to following the show, liking it, and they know what’s going on and who’s slept with who or had so and so’s secret baby or who was resurrected…
On the handout, you’ll see the Lord’s Prayer. It had a special place for my Grandma and has a special meaning to me. On those trips, when it felt like a sleep over, while we lay in bed but before we feel asleep, my Grandma would teach me the Lords Prayer. She would patiently recite it and I would follow and she would teach me the meaning of each phrase.
She also taught me that whenever I was afraid, I could pray, and ask God to take away my fears, and she was right. It always works without fail and has given me much comfort throughout my life. Grandma used to take me to church and Sunday school and she raved about Dr. MacBernie and how charismatic he was. She loved charismatic people. Don’t get me started on Bill Clinton!
My Grandma was a caretaker. She took care of my Mom and me, of Aunt Edith, and her husband Phil. It was not my Mom’s duty to return the favor, but her pleasure. And she did an excellent job too. And let us not forget how much she loved her kitties. She had Suzy her daytime kitty and Aggie her nighttime kitty and between the two of them vying for her attention she could not get any sleep and she loved every minute of it.
If you knew my Grandma you know she had a special love of gambling. Some of you may have witnessed the boarder line miracle of Grandma disappearing. While driving Grandma home across country from back surgery, when she supposedly could barely walk or stand, she was let out of the car near a casino and practically sprinted and disappeared through the doors leaving my parents open mouthed and stunned in the hot parking lot. I’ve seen it too, it’s true. That’s how much she loved a roll at the crap table or a spin at the slot machine. Next time you go, put a quarter in the Wheel of Fortune and place a bet on 10 the hard way and think of my Grandma. She’ll love it.
My Grandma loved pastels, especially pink and lilac. Thank you for joining us in celebrating that. My Grandma was smart, she got an AA degree a long time ago and always wished she had continued on instead of going to a business school. She still managed to know all sorts of things and encouraged reading and learning.
She loved watching the stocks with the investment club. She was almost more like a day trader and had 10 times the balls and risk posture than the rest of us. She watched the news, listened and read, and would buy what she liked and sell it when she thought it was ready. Mean while our stock club would labor over buy and sell decisions. She had a lot to teach and a love for knowledge.
89 years is a long time to review and share and I only knew her 40 of them. I’m so very lucky. My Mom and I were with her when she passed away, it wasn’t our duty, it was our pleasure to be there for her like she was always there for us. Grandma finally became Grandma to everyone. She embodied it so well and carried it so gracefully that everyone she met would call her Grandma.
One day I asked her if she minded everyone calling her Grandma and she said no, and sheepishly added “I kind of like it.” She gave my Mom a great role model, which she is already getting to emulate. If I’m so lucky and blessed I’ll get to be a great Grandma just like her.
August 28, 2008. Godspeed Grandma. Put in a good word for us.
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