In Memoriam

Luckily it’s been a really slow and boring week, so I can dedicate a blog to something really important without feeling like I have to play catch-up.

My Great Grandma Myrna died on Sunday.

Honestly, it was the absolute best case scenario. She was 96 and just sort of faded – there was no pain, and she wasn’t sick. It was just her time to go. Considering this is my first time dealing with the loss of someone I actually had a relationship with, I’m feeling pretty lucky. I’m definitely being eased into dealing with death.

I loved bragging to people about her. “Oh, you don’t have any grandparents left? That’s a bummer. I have four, PLUS a great-grandparent. Crazy, right?” And it wasn’t just the idea of a grandparent I was bragging about, either; Gram’s physical condition was never the greatest, at least not since I’ve been alive, but mentally she was putting me to shame right up until the very end.

How many 96-year-olds do you know that know how to operate a computer? That own a computer? That have an email address? That have a Facebook account?

Check “all of the above” for Gram! I mean, really. How awesome is that? She would even print out some of the cute emails she got. She gave me some once, and I’m pretty sure I saved them. :)

Gram’s inability to die became something of a running joke in the family. She’d get sick, or fall and hurt herself, and everyone would rush down to Tampa because “this might be it.” But within a week or two she’d be back to normal, and everyone would laugh and shake their heads in amusement. She was like the Energizer Bunny. For some reason, though, when I got the message from my mom that “gram’s not doing well,” I knew things really weren’t good this time and had time to prepare myself a little before getting the news.

I visited her during spring break last year, and I think that’s the last time I saw her. It was the first time we ever spent a significant amount of time alone together, and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. But I had dinner with her on Shabbat, and we had surprisingly easy conversation. She bragged about me and my writing to all of her friends at the table, and I was just so overwhelmed and flattered. I didn’t even know she had read anything that I’d written, let alone kept up with it.

I went back the next day for a little while in the afternoon, and we just sat in her room and hung out a little bit. She showed me her computer, and actually got to talking about her life. I can’t remember what I did last week without writing it down, but Gram was telling me about life during the Great Depression and I was just… blown away. Absolutely floored. I really wish I’d written down some of her stories because I really don’t remember much, but I remember that her father ran a business that had wealthy clients, so her family wasn’t hit too hard. Imagine, my great grandma was one of the lucky ones!

But what’s even cooler is that she worked during a time when women didn’t have to, and were frequently discouraged from doing so. She went out and got jobs and helped support the family. And she became this absolutely amazing painter! God, you should see her artwork. No wonder my family is so artistically inclined – it all came from her. She kept up with her crafting at the nursing home too, though a lot of it was making beaded necklaces and stuff like that. And she was Bat Mitzvahed, this year! She turned 13 when girls didn’t have them, and she always wanted to do it. So she did, at 96 years old. Awesome.

I remember leaving that day with an entirely different perspective of her. I was just in awe that I hadn’t known any of this until now, that this amazing woman had been sitting at all sorts of family gatherings and I hadn’t even bothered to think about what she might’ve been like before she became Grandma Myrna. That day she gave me one of the necklaces she made, and I took it back to Miami with me after break ended and hung it up next to my bed as a reminder. Of what exactly, I’m not sure. But right now, I’m really wishing I had it with me in London.

Now that she’s gone, I can’t really be sad for her. She had a long, amazing, fulfilling life, and she was constantly surrounded by people that loved her. I’m sad for me, and the fact that I learned to appreciate her far too late. But I feel so lucky to have three generations of amazing women to look up to and model my life after, and can only hope that I have my grandma until I’m nearly 50, and my mom until I’m over 70.

And if I can be half as awesome as Gram, with her colorful clothes and sharp mind and amazing attitude… well, I’ll have accomplished something huge.

I love you, Gram.


  1. as you might say...what. is. air.
    i love you!

  2. What a beautiful tribute and thanks for sharing your wonderful memories.