Tuesday, January 27, 2009

In Honor of Grandma

I'm sorry for the lack of posts lately. My ninety-five year old Grandma, the one who I speak about often on this blog, passed away last Wednesday night. Fortunately, my Dad (who she absolutely idolized) and I were there with her when it happened. I was talking about it today and it hit me how cyclical life is: less than a year ago I was witnessing the sheer beauty that is birth with the arrival of my niece. Now, just a few days ago, I witnessed the death of my dear Grandmother; two experiences you cannot describe without experiencing them yourself. When it comes down to it, when my Grandmother died it was horrific, but there was a moment, right before my Grandmother went, that we locked eyes -- it's a moment I will be forever grateful for.

My apologies for the depressing thoughts on a food blog, but the title of this blog came from her. My Grandmother is the one who called me "the good eatah." Along with my father, sister and mother, I spoke at my Grandmother's funeral service and I'd like to share what I said:

A lot of my heartache feels selfish. No one will ever love me quite like her. No one will call me "My Lizza." No on will dote over me like she did, calling me in the middle of the week, leaving a voicemail and saying "Hi Kwepie Doll. Call me when you get a chance. I love you." No one will send me notes in the mail with a ten dollar bill enclosed that read "I hope you're being a good eatah" signing them, "Love" - always in quotations, like it was her supposed name, "Grandma."

No one will refer to my dog, whose name is Henry, as Peter, or Oscar, or that little devil. Not because she couldn't remember his name, she was sharp as a tack up until the very end, but because she thought it was funny, and I did too.

We had a special relationship; we were "buddies" as she called us. We had little secrets, like the time last summer when she could barely walk after breaking her hip, she had one of her nurses drive her to my condo to surprise me, just because she wanted to see it. No one ever knew about that.

Growing up I couldn't have asked for a better Grandma. While getting sick was no fun as a kid, it meant a day with Grandma, being pampered, watching the Price is Right with her and Grandpa, eating hamburgers and having her rub my back, singing her signature song: Ah, ah, baby. No one took care of me quite like her.

She had two single beds in her room, one being hers and the other was mine, always ready for a sleepover. I remember the last time we had a sleepover, a little over a year ago on Christmas Eve; to give the visiting nurses a night off, I offered to stay overnight with her, to keep an eye on her after breaking her hip. This wasn't at all noble of me, I wanted her company more than ever at that moment, for it was a Christmas when the A-man was serving in Iraq and I knew her love would make me forget that.

Right after Grandma passed away, I was holding her hand, sobbing and the first thing that came to mind was, "you almost made it." This was another secret we had, once I got engaged to the A-man, Grandma told me that she could go now, that she could die and that it was okay because I was going to be taken care of. I obviously didn't like that statement, and told her that she better make it to my wedding day. Four and a half months shy of the date, I know it's okay for she more than approves of the man I'll be marrying.

It's uncanny that it was exactly twelve years ago on this day, January 24th that my Grandpa, her husband Sam, passed away. There's no doubt in my mind that they're both together now, looking at the family they created, content on the love they gave and on the impact they made in their lives.

Life sure won't be the same without her.

In honor of Grandma and the way she impacted my life through food, I share with you recipes of her own creation, or those inspired by her:

Grandma's Stuffed Cabbage

Mom's Stuffed Pumpkin

Lithuanian Kugeli

American Chop Suey


aTxVegn said...

I'm so sorry. I know you will miss your Grandma terribly. You have many wonderful memories of her to cherish forever.

Ricki said...

Liz, your words are touching and heartbreaking and so achingly honest (thanks for the good cry). While it's horrible to lose someone you loved so much, it's wonderful that she had you and your dad there when she went. I'm so sorry! Sending love and hugs your way.

Jenny said...

I lost my Gram in 2003 and I still feel her with me many days. It's so difficult to lose the ones we love. But know that she is in a better place watching over you every day!

MariaTeresa.Faith said...

Oh, Liz, what a beautiful testimony to your beloved Grandma! You are all in my prayers! God bless you!

Liz said...

Thanks aTx :) I feel lucky to have so many memories of her.

Ricki - thank you. It took me awhile to see the good in the experience, but I'm glad she wasn't alone.

I'm sorry about your Gram Jenny. It's amazing how years can go by after someone's death and they'll still be with you.

MT, thank you :)

Anonymous said...

WOW! That is so awesome! The stories that you have, the love that you were not only given, but now can pass on as a wife, a mom, a grandma. She showed you the best that anyone can give. You are truely blessed!

Emilia said...

The speech you gave at your grandmas funeral was so touching, had me in tears.

I am sincerely sorry for your loss.

P said...

Oh, so sorry hon'. My condolences.

Liz said...

Anon -- I like your outlook. I am pretty blessed.

Thank you Emilia; she was a great lady :)

Thanks P. It's nice to hear the support :)

Kate said...

That's funny -- I was just about to post my eulogy of her too. Great minds think alike. Thanks for sharing, Lizza.

Vittoria said...

My heart goes out to you. I know what such a loss is, but she loved you, and continues to love you. She'll be with you when you marry the A-man, and you'll have wonderful stories to tell your children. <3