Last weekend my grandmother passed away. It has been the long goodbye—Grandma Lou suffered from dementia for nearly ten years. Over the course of my young adulthood it has been painful for me to watch her in that state; she would have hated it.
During my childhood, Grandma (as we called her) was one of the most important influences in my life. We lived in different cities, but I always remember her being there for important moments. She was the one who came over to help when my brothers were born, watched us (with my Grandpa) when my parents took a trip away together, and fixed plentiful Thanksgiving dinners. A distinct memory of mine is waking up in the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning, making my way to my grandparents’ den to watch the Macys parade (we were in the Pacific Time Zone), and being astounded that Grandma Lou was already up and basting a turkey in the oven.
There are many reasons that I loved Grandma Lou. It might be because I looked so much like her or because I inherited her crafty genes (I got some of those from my mom too)—she always knew how to keep me busy. Grandma, a home-ec teacher, taught me how to sew and bake at an early age. She also sewed numerous things for me over the years (quilts, swimsuits, dresses, décor) and always made special loaves of Swedish rye bread and cookies of some variety for us when we visited. (And I can’t forget to mention her ample supply of homemade canned peaches, applesauce, and strawberry jam).
If you’ve followed my blog for any period of time, you are well aware that I love all things domestic. I think a lot of this has to do with Grandma Lou. She always made domestic life seem important. From an early age, she instilled in me the value of the handmade, which I hope to pass on to my own children. When I put Nora’s nursery together last year, I couldn’t help but be inspired by Grandma Lou and other crafty members of my family. The needlepoint she made for my nursery now hangs in Nora’s.
When it came time to name our daughter last year, Steve and I had no doubt that our little girl’s middle name would be Lucile, a tribute to Grandma. It was the best way I could think to honor a person who taught me so much.
While I won’t be able to attend her memorial service next week, I will be thinking about her and my family a lot. She and my grandfather, who passed away last year, have left outstanding legacies in so many people’s lives and they will always be remembered.