My grandmother died on January 1 this year. She made it to 2015. There’s something fitting about the fact that she made sure she saw 2015.
I miss her. Like all grief, it hits me at weird times. I’ll be watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix and will just break down in tears. I can’t call her anymore. I can’t hear her laugh or hear her tell stories of her times in the Follies. I can’t laugh with her about the small decorative pillow she has that says, “Dull women have immaculate houses.”
I wish you could all meet her. Her zeal for life was contagious. I hope you’ll indulge me as I share a few stories about this amazing woman!
At the funeral, my Uncle Jim spoke eloquently about Fahma. He shared a beautiful story about her love of reading and how it started when she was a young girl. As a young girl she was at the library and the librarian told her she could have her first library card if my grandma could read a book to her. My grandmother took that book home and read it until she could read it out loud clearly. She then went back to the library, read the book to the librarian and got her first library card.
My grandmother was a professional seamstress. If there was any type of new craft or art form available at JoAnn’s or Michael’s – she could do it and she would. My grandmother had a craft room that anyone who crafts or has a hobby wishes they could have. It was a room off of the den with a door (that was always closed). As a child, I can remember wanting nothing more than to see what was behind that door. Now that I’ve seen what was behind the door – I understand why I wasn’t allowed in. One wall and corner of this room was floor to ceiling craft/art supplies. There was a path in the room to the sewing machine. If I had seen this as a teenager – I’m sure I would have used it as a rationale for not having to clean my room.
When my grandmother wasn’t reading or creating she was volunteering. She loved arts and culture – plays, musicals, ballet, fashion. She volunteered at the church food pantry. She sang in her church choir until the very end. Philanthropy could have been her middle name.
The last story I want to share is about a family tradition. It’s called Schlock. Schlock is a family Christmas present exchange. It’s in the same genre of Christmas traditions as Elephant gift exchanges. My grandmother started a tradition of buying family members gifts that make people laugh. I believe the first gift was this small bear that when you squeezed it, it growled. Unfortunately, the growl sounded much more like a fart. Thus, my grandmother gave everyone farting teddy bears for Christmas. Eventually, this turned into a game that the adults played every year at Christmas (us kids weren’t allowed to play – we were asleep). The game had rules and regulations, traveling plaques/trophies, and, of course, a year’s worth of bragging rights.
Whether it’s genetics or nurturing, these stories highlight some of the ways my grandmother influenced my family and I. My love for reading, my affinity for the arts, my willingness to do deep cleaning but not be overly tidy, and my sense of humor – each are things that remind me of my grandmother every day.
I’ll end this tribute with a picture of the family my grandmother influenced. I have a more perfect version of this photo – with everyone smiling politely. However, this picture, with everyone laughing at something someone in the back said, is a more perfect representation of the life of my grandmother. I love you, Grandma Rousseau!