Bezige Bij (bezigebij) wrote,
Bezige Bij
bezigebij

Grandma



Olga Beverly Silverman born February 20, 1932  died at the age of 78 on December 17, 2010 as Terry B. Chasmar.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, December 21, 2010 she will be cremated. I won't be able to attend the cremation, but I wrote the following for the occasion.

***

When I think about Grandma the first word that comes to mind is: fierce. There was fire in her. Even at the end, when she was greatly diminished, you could see and feel it, in the way she would obstinately and proudly refuse help, in the way she would light up for those she loved.


Grandma was not a woman to flatter or play nice or do something because you, or anyone else, wanted her to do it. She did what she did because it was what *she* wanted. She had her own mind, and I believe this is one of the most beautiful and admirable things about her.


She did not care what other people, what the gross of humanity, thought of her. She strived in little ways to distinguish herself. I remember a story about how, as a teenager, when it was the fashion to wear a certain sweater in a certain way, she deliberately put the sweater on backwards. She told this story with pride. She did her own thing. She was determined to be her own person and live her life as she saw fit. Her greatest achievement is never becoming the person others wanted her to be, but always being who *she* wanted to be.


It may seem that I am painting the picture of a woman who was selfish, and while, yes, she could at times be selfish, or at least put her needs before those of others, she could also be inordinately kind and giving. She gave her all, her everything to the people close to her, especially Grandpa.


I have rarely had the pleasure or privilege of witnessing two people who loved and adored each other so passionately, so completely. Grandma always said that from the moment she saw the back of Grandpa’s head, she knew he was the man she would spend her life with. Knowing the back of Grandpa’s head, this statement always amazed me. But she did, she spent her life with him, and they made their lives around each other. Even after 50 years of marriage their eyes still lit up for each other and you would see them frequently squeezing each other’s hands affectionately.


When I was 10 years old I spent the summer with Grandma and Grandpa in Oregon. My mother told me later that I followed Grandma around continuously the entire summer, to the point of standing outside the bathroom door to continue the conversation. I can picture it, and knowing myself as I do, the fact that I did this does not surprise me. What is surprising, and to me speaks of a remarkable amount of love and kindness, is that Grandma, never once, reprimanded me for my behavior. She never once told me it was too much or that she needed her own space. I needed a lot of love and attention that summer, she felt and knew this and accordingly made sure she gave me all the love and attention she could. For this, I will always be thankful to her.

As a child I worshiped Grandma. Saying so might sound exaggerated, but it isn't. I truly thought she was *the* most wonderful person in the entire world. I loved everything about her.


I loved her thin wrists and perfectly manicured finger nails. I loved her red lipstick and the combs with which she held back her short curly hair. I loved her neat trousers and thin cotton blouses which she wore tucked in. I loved the pieces of raw potato she gave my brother and I while she prepared dinner. I loved the way she pulled me to her to give me a special just-for-me hug. I loved the way she held her thin body against the oven at our house to keep warm while my mother and her talked in loud Northern Jersey accents. I loved her laugh, full and uninhibited and remarkably large for a woman her size. I loved how animated she was, how she was slightly arrogant and rebellious in her frail life. I loved that she never seemed to care what anyone else thought, that she had married the Catholic boy despite what the Jewish family back in Wales might think. I loved that she had changed her name from Olga to Terry, after a pirate in a comic strip. But most of all, I loved that everyone, and especially Grandma, constantly told me how similar we were. I was a reflection of her and there was no one else who I wanted to resemble more.


Maybe, for me, it has been especially painful and confronting to watch her deteriorate because of this closeness, this resemblance. Her death has not been a kind death. It has been a death in which the worst of her character has been brought to the surface. It has been difficult to witness, and even more difficult to partake in. Caring for her has in many ways been a thankless and discouraging task. This knowledge makes me even more thankful to those, especially Uncle Michael and Aunt Geri, who have taken on this responsibility. Thank you, with all my heart.


Yet despite this pain and this difficulty, there have been beautiful moments, lucid moments, moments when her eyes lit up and you knew without a doubt that she was aware of who you were and that she loved you intensely. Fiercely.


During my last visit in September, when I said good-bye to her at Alcoeur Gardens, she squeezed my hand and looked at me and said, “You are a darling girl.” And I knew she meant this with her all, her everything, just as I say with my all, my everything: Grandma, you were a darling grandmother, a darling woman and I will always hold you dear. I love you.


Carrie



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