She was not Nana or Grandma or Granny. She was, and always will be, Grandmother. And Grandmother died yesterday at 99 years and 48 weeks of age.
My younger sister was with her as she passed, holding her delicate hand with red painted fingernails. I love that. I love this image.
Grandmother was elegant and modest, kind and generous. She also had a surprising sense of humor and youthful playfulness. I remember walking across the parking lot in Port Jefferson after a light lunch of tea and sandwiches. I was steering us away from the leather clad burly bikers. She insisted we walk right through their gathering with a twinkle in her eye.
Another time we were at the bar of a waterfront restaurant in Kingston, she easily in her 8th decade, when the bar tender served us two more drinks, paid for by the two gentlemen across the way.
She wore stocking socks, even in winter. She had her hair & nails done regularly. She would never put a milk carton on the table, but she was always good for cookies and treats (which we were not allowed in our house).
She kept the pictures from the cruises she’d been on with her girlfriends, black and white images of glamourous men and women embarking to sun drenched destinations. She had a collection of miniature spoons from her travels around the world, and a world map pegged with pins marking all the places she’d been.
In her early 80’s she said she would stay alive until she got a Great Grandchild. She had to wait until her middle Grand-daughter (me) had a child at 38 years of age. Grandmother became a Great Grandmother at the age of 91, and saw her intention realized.
My Grandmother was a refuge for me from a chaotic family life. She was always welcoming, always gentle, always accepting. Eating her signature mac & cheese casserole (the one with hot dog bits), zipped up in a warm fleece blanket sac, watching the Love Boat with sleeping cats upon my lap, I was safe, I was loved, I was home. I miss you, Grandmother, and am so grateful for your presence in my life.
Verna Carolyn Ellman ( Feb. 1914 – Jan. 2014)