Happy 100th Birthday, Grammy – wherever you are.

19 Oct

Thank you so much for all your comments and messages about yesterday’s post. I really appreciate it, and it is always nice to know I’m not the only mother with tears and snot running down her face over her children. 


Yesterday would have been my Grandmother’s 100th birthday. She passed away this March. It’s hard to believe she’s gone – she has been a part of my life forever.

She was truly an amazing woman. Widowed at the age of 60, she lived another 39 years and never remarried. She lived in the same 3rd floor walk-up apartment in Brooklyn for 50 years plus. She was fiercely independent and loved her family. She wasn’t the grandmother that baked cookies and knitted socks. In fact, I don’t ever recall eating anything she cooked. She religiously watched her “story”, The Young and The Restless – we knew never to call her between 12:30 and 1:30 pm. She was always stylishly dressed. When Frank Sinatra sang “My Way”, I’m pretty sure he was talking about my grandmother.

She didn’t like to be told to do anything. Later on in her life, she required a little help taking care of herself – but she would only accept it on her terms. I remember how hard I would laugh when she would proudly tell me how, instead of cleaning her ears as instructed, she would simply break the Q-tips and throw them in the trash. She would do the same thing with eggs – if she wasn’t in the mood to eat them, she would crack them down the drain and conspicuously place the shells in the garbage pail so she would pass what she termed “inspection.” She certainly didn’t invent civil disobedience, but she probably would have thought Ghandi’s hunger strike lacked creativity.

She could not resist a bargain – whether we were shopping at Macy’s or the grocery store. She moved to upstate NY for a time, and was horrified that her beloved NY Post cost an extra nickel where she lived. So horrified, in fact, that she refused to pay the extra 5 cents. If she picked up the paper at the corner bakery, she would simply place 50 cents on the counter, take her paper and leave. No one ever stopped her, though I have often wondered what the sales clerk thought of an 85 year-old shuffling away with her not-entirely-paid-for newspaper. If I bought it for her, she insisted on reimbursing me, but only 50 cents. At the grocery store, she would try to run into the delivery man who brought the bread fairly regularly and charm him out of a loaf, right off the truck. She would convince the butcher to put together a special package of chicken parts just for her – and then would sweet talk him into to skinning it all, and weighing it after he had removed all the skin. Then she would walk away giggling. On “Seniors Tuesday” she routinely  managed to get 2 of whatever they were giving away.

She was just like that: you would find yourself doing exactly what she wanted before you even noticed that you were.

I learned so much from her during her life, but it’s only when I reflected on her life that I discovered what I think is her most important lesson: you have to appreciate the simple things. I doubt anyone has gotten more pleasure from a 2nd package of free Hydrox cookies than my Grandma. Or from a soap opera. I think that’s a lesson we can all try to apply to our own lives.

Happy Birthday Grammy. We miss you.

My Grandparents and my Grammy's beloved pug, Maggie Magoo. Circa 1969.


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