Today is my grandma’s yahrzeit. She’s now been gone 25 years. It feels strange to be saying that, but maybe it’s because the difference this year is that my mom is gone.
My mom didn’t exactly have the best relationship with my grandma. My grandma was apparently much mellower by the time I was born, but she was definitely strong-willed and was the unofficial head of the household.
There is one story that I think perfectly encapsulates my grandma. Apparently, my grandfather did something that angered my grandma, so much so that she ended up chasing him around the neighborhood with a knife in hand while my mom and her siblings watched from the kitchen. This was the only time anything like this happened, so I can’t imagine what my grandpa must have done, although Grandma was known to have a short temper, something that all of us inherited to some degree. My mom hated every time I shared this story, but I think it’s pretty funny and definitely gives you some insight as to what she was like.
When Grandma died, my mom and her sisters planned the funeral. I insisted on going to the funeral home with my mom because I didn’t want to be left at Grandma’s house, but my aunts were vehemently against it. My mom brushed them off and I clung to her the whole time. I remember my mom insisting on buying a dress for my grandma to be buried in because the one my aunt chose wasn’t something Grandma ever would have worn.
The wake was disorienting. The mortician had put too much makeup on my grandma, which made my mom upset and I started crying because she didn’t look like the grandma I knew and loved. When I stood in front of her open casket by myself, I took out a miniature panda bear, which was part of a set that I played with, and tucked it under her arm. When Mom and I went back to her casket, I showed her what I had done and she smiled. I guess I didn’t want Grandma to be alone and that was my way of remedying that.
Grandma was the first death of someone I loved and it affected me deeply, not just because I was close to her, but also because it marked the end of the family I once knew. There was a lot of infighting and accusations thrown around for years afterwards and the holiday gatherings that I once looked forward to became things that I avoided.
My Aunt Eva died 12 years later in 2010, followed by Aunt Mary and one of my mom’s brothers in 2014. And now Mom is gone. She was the youngest of eight and now half of the siblings are gone.
I miss you, Grandma.