Tuesday, September 1, 2009

For Nellie Ide Henry

The caterpillar dies so the butterfly could be born.
And, yet, the caterpillar lives in the butterfly and
they are but one. So, when I die, it will be that I
have been transformed from the caterpillar of earth to
the butterfly of the universe.
-- John Harricharan

My 98 year old grandmother, Nellie passed away the morning of August 29. She was the matriarch of my father's family. She had a strong and silent presence. When she spoke, she spoke with honesty and integrity. Many times with quick wit and often with a sharp tongue. She had a wicked sense of humor and loved practical jokes.

She hosted holidays with aunts, uncles and cousins until the family outgrew her small home. Ask any of us and we'll tell how much we loved her homemade noodles with chicken. My father would have raved about her oyster stuffing made special for Thanksgiving. She loved to cook, but most of all I remember her baked goods; pies, cakes and cookies. My favorites were her incredible date pinwheel cookies.

Late in life she became a prolific quilter. Her works were crafted with great care, and always from the heart. I am happy to own one of her beautiful creations, and use it almost every day.

All her life she managed to get by without ever getting a drivers license. There was always someone willing to take her places. We often took her on family vacations. Sitting quietly in the car, she always seemed to enjoy the sights and sounds while tolerating my brother and I bickering in the back of the station wagon. Still tolerating us as young adults cranking Violent Femmes to rid our angst during long road trips.

When my father died I moved away from Ohio to find myself, establish my independence and put some much needed distance between some family dynamics. Unfortunately I didn't make it a priority to get back to Ohio much. When I started my business over six years ago, funds for travel just weren't available. I missed a lot of opportunities to learn about her, and vice-versa. I know she understood why I moved, but I will spend the rest of my life kicking myself for not seeing her before she passed.

Dear Grandma, you will always have a special place in my heart. Thank you for inspiring me and showing me how to be a strong and independent woman. May you and dad watch over me as I continue my passage through life.


jana said...

aww, sweet lady, she sounds so very lovely, and gritty and good people too. I'm sorry you didn't get to be with her more; she's at peace and I hope you are too.

hugs and support :)

keely said...

that was beautifully said. your grandmother sounded like a truly incredible woman and in how you describe her, I can see an influence of her character and hobbies in you.

Anonymous said...

Condolences. I love the collage you have done for her - she has such a lovely face. Don't kick yourself too much because you did what was obviously very important for you at the time.