Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Things I've been thinking about since my grandma died, in random order

A week and a half ago, my grandmother Genevieve Yandel passed away in her sleep at home. She was going to be 103 this December. As deaths go, hers was a good one. As lives go, I think overall hers was pretty rich. Since she passed, I've had just a mess of thoughts, memories, and realizations bouncing around in through my head. I list them here, in no particular order.

-I think I believed she'd always be around. Every time she celebrated another birthday, it lent some credence to that belief.

-My grandma made this amazing date-nut bread every year for Christmas. Only the adults received the bread as a Christmas gift. It was coveted, and it was delicious. I can remember my dad savoring that bread on Christmas morning, and my uncles partly-jokingly taking small loaves of bread away from each other every year at the family Christmas party. She baked the bread in soup cans. A couple of years into my relationship with Aa, grandma gave us a few loaves of date-nut bread as a Christmas gift. It was the first time she'd ever given me some of that bread. It felt like a huge rite of passage for me, and a recognition of my relationship with Aa. We weren't married, and several of my relatives focused on that when they saw us at Christmas. My Grandma Yandel never asked me why we weren't married yet. She just gave us date-nut bread.

-She had ten kids and 39 grandkids. My cousin Chris and his wife are expecting great-grandchild number 50. That's 99 direct descendants, so far.

-Her oldest son, my Uncle George, was apparently a bit of a tough guy back in the day. He would bring home boxes of shirts and once he brought home a bumper pool table. He actually told his younger siblings those things fell off the back of a truck.

-My grandfather, also named George, died more than 30 years ago. But he was once on a sports game show, called Around The Bases. It was all about baseball. He came in second to a young blind man whose final answer was actually incorrect, but my grandpa didn't want to point that out. He won a big ironing machine.

-All ten kids and both parents had to share one bathroom. One. Bathroom.

-There are many strangely-named businesses in the south suburbs of Chicago and the south side. These include a bar called Deja Brew, a superstore of some kind called Hobo, and two deeply depressing Chinese places: Panda Hut, and Asia China Buffet.

-I think the legacy my grandparents left is fucking amazing. Their ten kids - my dad and my aunts and uncles - are ten of the most decent people I know. I am really, really proud to be a Yandel.

-My grandma was 14 years old when the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, was added to the US Constitution.

-I wish I'd asked her a ton more questions.

-Because of a piece I'm doing at work and the annual ghost stories show for AGTV, I have been thinking about ghosts and hauntings a lot. She would be just a totally delightful ghost to have around.


auld bob said...

beautiful, kiddo...I'm tearing up again

Mary Kate said...

Did you know that I have her date nut bread recipe? She sent it to me when I got married.