As of Saturday, June 4th, I have no more grandparents. At the age of 94, my grandmother - Bobbi, as us grandkids called her - passed away. A nice, long life. A life I didn't really know much about, until after her death. She lived in Montreal, so we were never as close to that side of the family. Family trips grew less frequent as we got older, and several years went by with just a few phone calls on birthdays and holidays.
I flew out to Montreal on Sunday to be with my dad and to attend the funeral. So much was as I remembered it. Same dated furniture that had been around since i was a kid. Same crystal bowls and glasses within the locked cabinet. Same old photographs of long dead relatives on the walls. Same grandparenty feel.
I sat with my dad and his childhood friend as they talked, and his friend took notes for the eulogy. In that hour, listening to them reminisce, i learned a whole new side to my grandmother. She wrote to soldiers during the war. She graduated with a degree from McGill in 1939 - not common for a woman back then. She worked as an X-ray technician and didn't marry until she was almost 30 - also not that common. I looked through her albums. That was her, the little girl with a giant bow in her hair, standing amongst chickens. That was her, the young woman in the bathing suit, smiling with her friends. That was her, the lovestruck bride, gazing at her handsome new husband. That was her, the poised mother with her two young children at her side. And of course, that was her, proud grandma holding her first grandchild's hand (me!) and beaming at the camera. Yes, that was the bobbi i knew. All those pre-bobbi photos... that was a person I was just now glimpsing. Flipping through albums... watching her grow old.
Going through some things, i came across some cards and letters. A whole stack of valentine's day cards from my zaida (grandpa) to her, all with hand written love poems in them. My grandfather has been dead for almost 20 years. I found a few letters i had written her, also over two decades old. that made me smile. I'm glad she kept things like that. I do too.
Anyway, i'm not being very eloquent, i realize. Death doesn't bring out the best writer in me. All my thoughts swirl around, fragemented, and i find it difficult to pull together sentences to do them justice.
I'll just end this here.