I was talking with my mom this morning about how lucky I was to have had all of my grandparents not only alive and well up through my adult-hood, but to have been so close with them.
When my maternal grandmother died (age 96) in 2008, I remember my mom saying that the torch had been passed to the next generation. My grandfather had died in 2001 (age 92) so when grandma died, my mom and her brother, my uncle, became the heads of our small family.
My paternal grandfather died in 1998. He was the only one of the four to have had a difficult death. He had worked in (auto) garages his whole life, except for his military service. He had a difficult death caused by a lifetime of smoking. Emphysema is not one of the easier ways to go.
He had permanent grease under his fingernails, which as a child fascinated me. To me it meant that he was a hard worker and had something to show for it. I think I was fascinated by both grandfather’s hands – my memorial speech for my maternal grandfather was about his large, worn, worked hands. My grandparents were blue-collar working people, with the rough, scarred hands to show for the toils.
My grandma who died this morning was an amazing woman. Like the rest of my family, hard working and tough. She had an indomitable spirit, that I often try to channel when I’m having a difficult time.
She was the last of my grandparents to die. She was 95 years old, and even while in hospice, her same stalwart spirit was there.
Her matzoh-ball soup was legendary in our family, and we were all saddened when she was no longer able to make it. In a Jewish family, food is one thing that we congregate around. It is how we communicate. I grew up with grandma’s egg creams, matzoh brei, (often with cottage cheese mixed in), melty butterscotch brownies, a never-ending confusion from grandma as to why I didn’t like gefilte fish, and of course, her delectable matzoh ball soup.
I’ll never have grandma’s matzoh ball soup again, but my Aunt will carry on the traditions of our family and we will now congregate around her hand-hewn oak dining table.
I lost my grandma’s necklace today. It was silver and lovely. She let me borrow it for an evening out last time I visited her. It came home with me in my bag and when I asked her about sending it back, she told me to keep it. It’s one of my few pieces of jewelry, and when I wear it, it reminds me of my grandma. She is in her mid-90’s and amazing. Nothing fazes her. When I have a bad day, I try to channel her and let whatever is bothering me roll off my shoulders.
Earlier today I had a feeling that I would lose that necklace today. I ran my fingers across its bumpy texture and considered taking it off. The feeling was fleeting and I turned my attention back to my work at hand.
I know the moment it left my neck, not consciously, but there was a slight difference. It happened when I left work, as I was walking across the parking lot I lifted my work i.d. lanyard off over my head. I didn’t know it at the time, but as I drove away down the highway, I realized the loss.
As I reached up to my now bare neck, I flashed to that earlier feeling. Even though I was sad at the loss, I chuckled at my lack of listening to myself. I knew!
This feeling has happened to me before. Enough times that it’s familiar, but not often enough for me to have practice holding on to it. I don’t understand “precognition,” but it happens to enough people that it has a word, a dictionary definition even.
Perhaps one of these days, I’ll have enough clarity to hold on to that moment and act on it. I’ve been able to do that in the past, but the feelings happen more often that clarity.
I still hold hope that my grandma’s necklace turns up. It is a small, symbolic connection to a wonderful woman who won’t be around too very much longer, and I will hold on to her however I can.