My Grandma Rudi passed away last night. Ben Blair saw the news on our family facebook page just after midnight. She has been weak for a while, but I still felt shocked at the news and had to cry myself to sleep last night.
Things I’ve been thinking about since I woke up:
- Turtlenecks. Rudi would buy them in several different colors and wear them all winter. I have the exact same instinct. From September through April, I have to remind myself to wear things that aren’t turtlenecks.
- The News. My curiosity about what’s going on, at all times, everywhere, comes from my dad. And he inherited it from Grandma Rudi.
- Christmas Stockings. Rudi, born Ruth Shainwald, was Jewish, but I never knew her as religious, nor learned any Jewish traditions from her. In fact, gorgeous handmade Christmas stockings for the great-grandchildren — painstakingly cross-stitched by herself — were her signature gift. Poor Grandma! I don’t think she bargained for 28 great-grandchildren (and counting) when she started the tradition. (That’s a lot of great-grandchildren!) FYI: As her eyesight and ability to do handwork waned over the last few years, my sister Sara took up the stocking torch — no great-grandchild left behind!
- Yellow. It was Rudi’s favorite color, and I found myself pinning yellow things this morning. When I realized what I was doing, I became more intentional about it and filled my pins page with beautiful yellow images. (Feel free to pin something yellow for Grandma Rudi today. : )
- My Father. As I’ve mentioned before, my father died when I was pregnant with Ralph, 14 years ago. Grandma Rudi dying feels like somehow my father is even further from me now. Another connection gone.
- Challenges. I know Grandma had a lot of hard things in her life. Her mother was cruel to her. There was divorce and remarriage and shared custody of 4 children — at a time when divorce was rare and there wasn’t much in the way of models or support. There were heartbreaks, death and loss, even in my lifetime, that I’m sure were at times unbearable for her. But she never struck me as someone who felt worn down by life.
- Embracing Life. She had strong opinions, and embraced social, cultural, and technological changes. I remember showing her my first iPhone, and she was delighted to see it, but more, she wanted IN on the latest. She wanted to hold it, try it out, play with it. She had an enthusiasm for life that I think all her children and grandchildren have inherited to some degree. I hope I can pass it on to my own kids.
Good bye, Grandma Rudi. Thank you.
P.S. — Do you wear yellow socks? I always keep a pair or two in my dresser. And they always make me think of Grandma Rudi and my dad. I picked up the stripey pair at the Gap when we were in Colorado last month.