She was born during the First World War when Woodrow Wilson was the President. In the time since then, she has seen most of the 20th century and ventured into the 21st. And during those 97 years, she experienced more than her fair share of setbacks and infirmities. But today, my grandmother's time on earth came to an end. She was tough and resilient. For the last couple decades, she battles with macular degeneration which left her practically blind and in the last several years her hearing went so she could hardly hear as well. Some days she suffered from such pain that she couldn't walk down the stairs. However, other days she would get around just fine. In fact, it was only at the end of last year that she finally decided that she could no longer make it to Senior Care which, until then, she had gone to three days a week. She was a fighter.
My grandmother has been a major part of my life every since I've had a life. I've talked many times about my childhood visits most weekends when I'd stay at my grandparent's huge old house in Pennsauken. There I would sit at the kitchen table with the old Bakelite radio on it while my grandmother cooked dinner or did the dishes. We'd always take the long walk up Westfield Avenue past the Walt Whitman Theater (which my great-grandfather built) all the way to Thor's Drug Store where I would get my comic books, Black Jack Gum and other sundry items a kid lived for back in the 70s. When my great-grandfather died in 1978, my grandparents had to give up the house in Pennsauken and move to an apartment which was only a couple blocks from our house. I would still go over there many weekends as well as being able to hop on my bike and ride over anytime I wanted since they were so close. We would often take walks around the neighborhood and up to the Wawa convenience store. By January 1981, my grandfather died and my grandmother came to live with us; and that's where she's been ever since. She moved in the same year that MTV started up and she loved watching the music videos -- particularly Journey because she really liked Steve Perry. In the 80s and early 90's, she and I would watch Britcoms on the local PBS station; GOOD NEIGHBORS (aka THE GOOD LIFE) was a particular favourite and, later, ARE YOU BEING SERVED? And oh boy, did she love her chocolate! In the last couple decades, she's been able to do less and less due to her age and her ailments; all of which she took in stride with good humour. Not able to do much for herself, my parents and I have taken care of her in recent years. When my parents went away, I would be in charge of looking after her and cooking her meals (which she loved). She lived long enough to see all of her friends pass away but she still loved meeting new people and being the center of attention. She would get down from time to time but she never gave up or gave in. It was only her heart which gave out on her a couple weeks ago but she still hung on. Until today when she couldn't fight any more. I hope that wherever you are you are at peace and free of pain. I love you so much and I will miss you all the days of my life.