January 6, 2008

Remembering My Grandma Lucy

I saw this story on FARK and was highly amused -- the Queen of England loves Prince William's Wii. How fun to think of Her Majesty bowling in front of a big-screen TV, laughing as she plays with an electronic toy.

It reminded me of my father's mother. This is a photo of her and her siblings as kids that I've always loved. Like the Queen, Grandma Lucy loved gadgets. Simple little wind-up toys; her favorite was a bank in the shape of an apple. You'd wind it up and a little worm would pop out from the apple, grab a coin, and take it inside the bank. She had what seemed like fifty of these things around her house outside of Tampa, and every one of them would make her face light up and she'd laugh with joy. I think she would have liked the Wii, too -- it's fairly simple and intuitive to use, unlike a lot of other technology like a complex eight-button, two-joystick video game control common for an Xbox or a Playstation.

I remember a lot of fun things about her. She had a grapefruit tree out in front, and she accidentally hit it one year with her car. Later that year, it gave fruit that was colored blue, which she also thought was marvelous. She loved watching birds -- "Oh, he had the brightest blue feathers on him!" She was the one who got me started on using gender-specific pronouns for objects of indeterminate sex -- the ham was always a "he," for instance, as in "Oh, no! The ham's been cooking too long, he's gonna be really dry!" She brushed her teeth with warm water, which I thought was kind of gross, but that was her thing.

I remember that before she retired, she worked at a tomato-packing plant in the rural outskirts of Tampa. She volunteered at the St. Vincent de Paul charity; she didn't have much money but gave freely of her time to people who had less than she. Looking back on it, she actually didn't have much by way of money at all; just the house she and my grandfather bought. But she was rich, richer than anyone else I've known, in the things that count -- in love and life and happiness. She cared about the people around her more than anything else, and always wanted only good things for them. While I'm sure my dad and my uncles have a variety of memories more heterogeneous than mine (she raised them, after all, which sometimes involves being a little bit unpleasant at times for disciplinary purposes) I can only remember her as being compassionate and cheerful.

After she died, my dad and his brothers jointly decided that everyone in the family should take one thing from the estate, and the rest of the stuff was given to St. Vincent de Paul. She would have liked that, I thought. It was never about things with Grandma Lucy; it was always about people and love and happiness. She didn't care about things at all, even if she did love her little wind-up gadgets. We should all take a lesson from that.

I miss her, but not in a way that makes me sad, only a little bit wistful. I always smile when I remember her, because she was happy and had a bright attitude all the time I knew her, even when things sometimes got her down. I'm sorry she's gone because because I'm sure she would have liked to have met my wife before she went, and I know that the two of them would have got along famously.

I don't think there's any part of us that survives after we die. After each of us is gone, we will only live on in the memory of others. Mementos are important, then, because they help us remember those who have gone. My memento from her estate was a small hardbound book of the plates from Audubon's Birds of America, which I'll look at later tonight for her. So here's to you, Grandma Lucy.


Arnie said...

Thanks for sharing your recollections of your grandmother. and my mother. She was indeed one of the kindest and most sharing people I've known. Your thoughts reminded me of many episodes of childhood and early adulthood.

Pamela said...

What a great tribute to an obviously wonderful and special lady!