Grandma’s funeral was Wednesday. I am slow to blog. I guess funerals aren’t necessarily things you blog about. Nevertheless…
I learned a lot about Grandma at her funeral. Just as I was growing up and beginning to realize that she was an invaluable window to history – my history, family history, world history – her age began to take her mind. One of the miraculous things about her, though, was that when her mind was going, her body stayed strong. Throughout her whole life, she almost never got sick. She had pneumonia once. She beat breast cancer in her old age, too. But she was spared lots of the other physical ailments that come along with getting old.
Grandma never did her part to keep the apothecaries in business. Most old people, it seems, endure a daily cornucopia of pills and capsules and tablets and elixirs and ginkgo biloba to keep themselves breathing for as long as possible. Grandma lived 96 years without them. I don’t know her secret; I hope it’s genetic.
A long time ago, she ministered in a women’s prison in Wisconsin, leading Bible studies and church services. One of the inmates attacked her once, beat her severely. When Grandma was healthy again, she went back.
When she was a child in Russia, the Bolsheviks took over. Grandma told stories, multiple times, about how they came and took her dad’s watch. When he protested and insisted it was his own, they told the family they “didn’t even own the leather on their shoes.” The communists, she knew, could give you a little but had to take everything first. They promised the people a feast, and when her neighbors all brought food, the soldiers piled it up and poured fuel on it and burned it in front of them. She never took anything for granted. She worked hard her whole life.
Her faith was intertwined in every story my mom and my uncles told. She shared it, taught it, lived it.