Four summers ago I met a little old lady, very genteel, very well-spoken, very sharp. She knew about the world and asked me intelligent questions about my life back home and my experiences in the US. She was articulate, funny, and the first time we met I was shocked at how many hours passed by as we spoke.
I saw her every summer since then when we would stop to visit when we drove to Maine, four summers in total, and each time she remembered details about my life, my family, and about key conversation points we’d had, and we would revisit issues. And always, she spoke with pride and shining eyes about her family, her grandchildren, and her great grandchildren. We would discuss the books she’d been reading, the latest mystery plots, the economy, and some politics. And we would discuss Mary and all her childhood shenanigans.
This past summer when we went to visit, Mary and I both knew we were going to say goodbye to her grandmother, this little old lady that I had had some wonderful conversations with, whom Mary loved and held dear in a way that many people will never understand. This time there were no books to discuss, no politics or economic conversations, just gentle teasing and laughter, and looking at old photos. She talked to us about living, and about being true. And she said one thing to Mary that I knew was her parting shot. She said to Mary “No matter what, always be yourself. Don’t ever be anything but yourself.”
Last week, she passed on.
I don’t claim to know her as well as Mary or the rest of her family did. But I do know this, she will be missed. She never drove a car, she resisted any efforts to place her anywhere but in her home, the home she lived in with her late husband for eons. She resisted yielding on her independence, and at the end she said her farewell to the world and passed on exactly where she wanted to be, in her home.
I had the privilege to meet and get to know both of Mary’s grandmothers before they passed, and if there’s one thing they both had, and that I know they passed on to their granddaughter, it’s balls of steel. And I am sure she will use them well.
Rest in peace Alice, you will be missed.