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June 12, 2011

26 Jun

My grandmother passed away when I was 15, and I guess I never got to know her as well as I now wish I had. I have memories of baking brownies with her, the way she smelled of cigarettes and way too much perfume, and I distinctly remember her laugh. In my adult life, I know her mainly in the context of my grandfather’s loss. They were crazy in love their whole lives. They went through difficult times together, losing a child, poverty, and her Parkinson’s at the end of her life. But they loved each other and supported each other their entire lives. She died in her sleep, in his arms, where (I believe) she was happiest. Isn’t that what we all aspire to?

In the early stages of my break-up, I was sobbing to my mother about how I couldn’t believe he could just up and leave me.

“It happened to Grandma,” my mom told me. I was flabbergasted. I had never heard of this. I had no idea. My grandmother and grandfather were two peas in a pod. I had never heard of there ever being someone else.

But my grandmother had a first love. He went off to World War II and wrote her a letter from his training camp saying he had met someone else, that it was over. She was devastated. But, she decided she was done with men forever. She was going to be a career girl. In the 1940’s that meant going to secretary school. She worked hard and eventually became lead secretary at the office where she worked. She traveled all over the country, worked on a dude ranch, and in the above picture went sailing. (She’s on the left.) Then on a random night out with friends, my grandfather (who was actually supposed to go across the street and meet another girl) approached her and never turned back.

My mom sent me this picture, and I keep it by my window.

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