My grandma, my last living grandparent and the last living great-grandparent to my children, passed away in mid January. I wrote this letter for her, much like I wrote a letter for my PopPop when he passed a few years ago. My parents printed the letter out and set it on a table during a reception in memory of my grandma last month. Her friends said I described her quite well.

January 17, 2022

Dear Grandma,

You gave me my first spanking, and I’m sure I deserved it.

You gave me your auburn red hair. And maybe some of your stubbornness, too.

When I was probably four, you gave me a t-shirt that proclaimed to the world “I’ve got the meanest Grandma in town!”

You excelled at tough love in the best way possible. You took good care of me and didn’t hesitate to correct me. You have been a constant in my life, always rooting for me, always making things fun. And always (perhaps hopelessly) trying to teach me some old-school “classy” manners.

I’m pretty amazed at all your years of living. You lived them fully! You coached basketball, you were one of the first women to graduate from Florida State University, you cracked codes with high-level clearance in the US Navy, you sold real estate, you raised two boys in Rhode Island, France, Hawaii, Virginia, and Texas (I’m sure I’m missing some stops along the way). You survived cancer and replaced how many knees? And celebrated 67 years of marriage before PopPop went on ahead of you.

There was a visit to my parents house a few years ago that I’ll never forget. You and I sat next to each other at the dinner table, as we often did. Everyone else had gotten up, but you and I sat there and swapped boy mom stories. You raised two boys, and I’m raising my two boys. We understood each other. And from that time on, I realized I didn’t just have a Grandma, I had a friend.

I don’t know how many people get to see both their grandparents live to the age of 95. It was a surprise to lose PopPop. He left so suddenly. And yet I had cried when we drove away from your house the Christmas before he died. I knew somehow it would be the last of its kind. And it was perfect.

PopPop’s passing was sudden. This is different. You know your time is up. You knew it at Christmas, and we all seemed to know it, too. It was a perfect last Christmas with you. We were all together as a family, and we visited PopPop at the National Cemetery with you. And again I had that tearful, sinking feeling as we drove home.

What a gift to have had you in my life for so long. I have been truly blessed to know you as my Grandma and as my friend.

You’ve always been tough when you needed to be tough, but you’ve also always been a devoted, faithful source of love. And probably one of the greatest examples of fun and grit mixed into one person.

I love you, Grandma. And I will miss you.

December 2021