My grandma died this morning. Here she is with my grandpa on their wedding day, 66 years ago. She was one of many strong women in my family. When she was 18 her house caught on fire, trapping two of her younger siblings inside. She ran into the burning building and rescued them. There were also some newly hatched chicks on the stove, and she would have run into rescue them if she hadn’t been prevented from it (likely wisely). In the 1950s she became the first person in her family to attend and graduate college. She felt it was more important for women to go to college then men because men could get good jobs as construction workers and other manual labor fields that were barred to women, and she never wanted to be in a situation where she could not support herself. Even in the 1950s when a lot of women stayed home, my grandma taught school, even being the breadwinner for the family when my grandpa decided to get his master’s degree.
She lived for 89 years, had four daughters, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. After years of a slow decline where she developed dementia, lost her mobility, and many of her basic dignities, I believe she was ready to go. She passed along her love of reading and education, pragmatism, determination, and tendency to save people from fires (my mom has also rescued someone from a burning car, so it’s genetic). Till the end she was loved dearly by my grandpa, who would look at her and still see the cute brunette he married 66 years ago and not the frail old lady she became.
Note: I am an atheist, and religious expressions of grief are not comforting to me and are painful. Please be respectful of this. If you want to know how to approach an atheist who is grieving, read up on it here.
Also, if you know me on Facebook, please don't post anything on my page right now. We haven't told my great aunt yet because her grandson is getting married today and we are waiting till that is over.