Last Wednesday, after fighting a long, steady battle with Alzheimer’s, my grandmother breathed her last. I won’t be able to attend her graveside service today, so I offer my tribute to her memory here.
Some of my favorite childhood memories involve picking my way down Grandma’s private beach on Orcas Island, listening to the waves crash against the rocks and looking for the perfect sanddollar, the one that wasn’t cracked and might, just might, still contain little sand stars. We also searched for colorful shells and smooth rocks. We’d bring them all back to her house and keep them—for who knows what. (My aunt has since shared that she plans to make mosaic garden stepping stones from these still-saved treasures, which is a fitting memorial, I think.)
Another favorite pasttime was curling up under a blanket on her cushioned window seat reading and looking out at her garden. My grandmother loved to garden. She had a thriving plot beside her house and out front. I loved to pick blueberries from her front garden, eating them on the spot. I have to admit I did not inherit her green thumb. (I struggle to keep cactuses alive.) But fortunately, at least one son and daughter did. My father prides himself on his tomato plants and I grew up stuffing my face every spring with the strawberries he tended. And I know one aunt keeps a beautiful garden that served as the backdrop for her daughter’s wedding several years ago.
Fortunately, I did inherit my grandmother’s love of books and writing. Early in her career, she reported for The Seattle Times, and throughout her life, she kept full bookshelves. She also passed on her travel bug. My grandmother loved to travel, and she did so extensively, picking up original art and other souvenirs everywhere she went. We share this desire to to bring back artistic momentos of our travels. In fact, we both framed pieces purchased from street vendors.
I did not see my grandmother very often as an adult, but I’ll be forever grateful that I was able to see her the week (including the day) she passed. And Teddy got to meet his great-grandmother. She was unresponsive during our visits, but I’m glad I have a picture to show Teddy when he’s older.
Rest in peace, Grandma June. Your memory lives on.