that’s my mom’s side of the family – all quick-witted and smart-assed, every one. most of them live in the greater chicago area, an area i love but have only ever visited in my memory, but my memories of going out there are some of my favorites.
my mom’s the second oldest of 9 kids, my youngest uncle is 11 years older than i am.
when i was probably 6 or 7 we were staying at my grandparents’ house on the south side of chicago, and some of us grandkiddos were playing (or in my case, learning to play and failing miserably at) double-dutch. my youngest aunt on my mom’s side ran home to take a quick shower for a date with the man who would become her husband, kevin. while she was in the shower, my grandmother decided to see if she remembered how to double dutch jump rope.
turns out she did and she totally kicked my butt.
my mom found her birth certificate about 15 years ago and saw that her middle name was misspelled on it. her middle name is almost unheard of, but very similar to a somewhat common name – the certificate had the more common name. she called her mother to verify that she had known her middle name correctly all her life, and my grandmother said, “of course you know your middle name, dear. there’s just some boob of a county clerk in chicago who doesn’t.”
my grandmother is 82 now. she has alzheimer’s and parkinson’s. on thursday, she fell and broke her hip – the doctor said it was the most common old lady broken hip, and she was brought to the hospital for surgery. as of yesterday morning, she had declined significantly and started going into congestive heart failure. she wanted to talk to all of her living children and her brother. so my mom got to talk to her on the phone and said, “you’ve been a marvelous daughter and i love you.” she talked to one of my aunts and said, “thanks for the memories.”* my mom got on a flight to chicago 3 hours later. i just talked to my mom and it looks as though my grandmother will likely die today, and i will try to go to the funeral at some point.
they called a priest yesterday who came in and gave her the Anointing of the Sick, and everyone led a little prayer. my grandmother was lucid enough to ask if she could lead a prayer, and who is going to say no to that?
everyone closed their eyes, bowed their head, and my grandmother said, “look out lord, here i come!”
update: she died a few hours ago. what a good woman was my grandmother. i’m lucky to have had her.