On Monday, the 13th of September, we lost my last living grandparent, my maternal Grandmother. Mrs Marjorie Wood (née Ulrich) would have turned ninety-five (95) on September 22nd and, while I am not sad that her suffering has come to a peaceful end, the hole she has left in my family is acutely felt. Covid affected her tremendously, she was isolated in her ALF for many months and then she contracted covid after a hospitalization for a fall in her room. She’s been uncommunicative in hospice for several months and more than once took a turn towards the end only to rally and stay with us.
My grandmother was both a woman of her generation and a bit of a maverick. She accepted the message that her highest goal as a woman was to be a wife and mother, but she also attended college for a time, paying her own way. She came from very modest beginnings and married into one of the most prominent families in her area. She never officially worked outside the home, but juggled far more details than most full time employees between the house and volunteering and my grandfather. She deferred to my grandfather (an engineer) in many things, but was the neck that turned his head far more than he would probably have acknowledged prior to his sudden and unexpected death on February 1, 2003; I can hear their “fights” in my head which included a lot of name repetition in a certain tone. She was always a wonderful hostess, showing her love and care for her family with actions rather than words. She struggled with the fact that I married a black man and worried that my mixed children would not fit in, but respected, accepted and loved my husband and boys once she met and got to know them.
Her main accomplishment, in her eyes, which she was happy to describe in excruciating detail to whomever would listen, was her family.
We gathered in Ohio in 2016 for her 90th birthday ….
As the eldest granddaughter and groomed to please my elders, I spent a lot of time with each of my grandparents. With my paternal grandmother, I learned to crochet and knit. With my maternal grandmother, since I wasn’t very enthusiastic about cooking, we wrote letters. When we moved from Orlando to Miami after my diagnosis and I cleaned out many stashes, I found piles of letters and cards from her. We moved from Ohio when I graduated from high school and she never really liked talking long distance on the phone, so we wrote to each other frequently. I saved nearly all of those letters and cards until I had to let most go in the move and her handwriting evoked many memories.
My grandmother was a part of my life at each stage and consistently wanted to know me. That being said, she didn’t always understand or agree with my choices and wasn’t quiet about that. I think some of my stubbornness in going into a male dominated profession scared her because she was worried about me. When I kept working full time after I had my kids, I think that worried her too. She was a product of her generation and her experiences, so my tendency to do things differently wasn’t something she easily assimilated. We didn’t always see eye to eye but I always knew she cared, I always knew I could count on her love.
My grandmother’s legacy is love. Love of her family. And I can only hope to carry that legacy forward as I now face the world without a grandparent and my children without great-grandparents. I hope to keep her memory alive by telling the stories of who she was to my kids since they won’t have the benefit of her physical presence the way I did. She will never be forgotten.
Her obituary with a truly lovely slideshow can be found here.