Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

The last grandma

Love, Children, Mothers, Grandparents, Death

An open letter to my niece and nephew, whose grandmother just died at age 86.

Dear Casey and Molly,

 When I told the kids that Grandma Emma had died, they cried too, even though she wasn’t their grandma. She was the last grandma we had, and she always treated them with kindness, interest, and respect. You can’t ask for much more than that.

 But what a bigger loss for you. Always nearby, she was a constant in your lives: you even grew up in the house she built with the grandpa you never knew but saw in your dad.

 I know your dad was exhausted from spending every night with her, but what a gift to both of them that he could see her off.

 When your mom told me Emma was dying, and that the good part of it was that your dad and his brother had reunited, I had one of those  black humor moments Karen and I are prone to having.

 “Oh great: I can just hear Grandma Doris when Emma gets there. She’ll pour a cup of decaf and say: see what we have to do to get the kids back together again?! DIE!!!”

 I didn’t know Emma well even though I knew her a little over three decades. I can see her sitting in a chair, her ankles crossed and hair done perfectly, chuckling a little at your escapades, then later at your kids’ escapades. She wasn’t as noisy or bawdy as my side of the family: she was much more dignified.

 Emma had great legs and was always immaculate. We never understood her passion for shades of purple and occasionally teased her about it.

 Sometimes she’d talk about church or catering—did she do that with her sister? I don’t remember. She enjoyed having her family expanded when she married Mel after being a widow, and she talked  often about his children too.And sometimes we ate the pears from Mel’s pear tree. Funny, the details that make up a life.

 Since your mom and I are now the grandma generation, I get to close this on a little lecturey note. All we can do in this life is love each other. Please, don’t let differences build walls between you. Don’t wait until you are old and creaky to find again the wonderful kinship you always had with each other as kids.

Don’t wait for someone to die. If you do, Emma, Doris, your mom and I will all come back to haunt you. Pretty sure about that.

 Love you,


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