It's been an uncharacteristically long time since my last post. As you probably know, our grandmother (center-right above. View the obituary here) passed away in Middletown, Ohio last Wednesday morning, so I've been doing a bit of traveling and a lot of processing. I was back in Ohio for about five days that I spent: 1) at a bedside vigil as the family waited for Mawaw to pass 2) at the funeral home making plans for a memorial service 3) visiting with family, including Shayne in Columbus 4) at the visitation and memorial service and 5) sleeping on planes.
Mamaw's passing was just what a death should be: peaceful and painless, at home with lots of family and excellent hospice workers. It was earlier than we expected since she was in great health until being diagnosed with cancer, but she lived a good life of 76 years. Her husband of 60 years was by her side when she passed, and now is trying to figure out how you adjust to this kind of loss. The family--Mamaw, Papaw, Dad and my uncle--have run a fabric and upholstery shop together since the 60's, and that group in particular will have a lot of difficult adjustments to make in daily life.
Mamaw originally came to Ohio as a young girl when her family moved up from Kentucky. There was a great picture--one of those grainy old black and whites--from right after the move where she was sitting holding a dog, and her sister was holding a giant goose with broken wings. Apparently these were the family pets, and at the time it was illegal to bring animals across the Kentucky/Ohio state line, so their father hid both animals in the trunk of the car when they came up. She married my grandfather when she was 16 and he was 20, and spent her life in Middletown as a wife, mother and family matriarch, along with working at the shop. In her lifetime, Middletown transitioned from being an All-American city and a boomtown towards a typically declining rust-belt town that's slowly being overrun by stripmalls. She and Papaw, on the other hand, transitioned from being poor Kentucky immigrant factory workers to successful small business owners and well-loved and well-known members of their community.
In 2005 (on the same day that the picture above was taken), our friends Sally and Sam were visiting from New Zealand, and the grandkids were sitting around having some sort of discussion about gun control. Mamaw overheard what we were talking about and said with her sweet, Southern lilt, "I want to get me a handgun! Just a cute little gun so I can shoot critters and snakes when they come up to the porch!" She was a shrewd woman, and I'm pretty sure that was her way of encouraging us to change the subject.