My Grandma, Lucille Evans Pack, passed away. I got the call late last night. I grew up with 3 grandmas. And I am now grandma-less.
There was Grandma Daisy. She was my father’s stepmother, and she did most of the work of raising him. She was tall and strong and Italian and hardworking. I thought she would live forever, but in 2008 she was the first of the three to die. I couldn’t have been more surprised.
There was Grandma Rudi. She was my father’s birth mother. She was frank and opinionated. Jewish by culture but not religious. Loved the color yellow. You may remember she passed away a few weeks ago.
And there was Grandma Lucille. She’s my mother’s mother. Her grandkids called her Gigi. She was petite, stylish, beautiful, loved tiny objects, and part of her has been aching to die for 20 years — since her husband, Grandpa Lloyd, died of cancer. Lucille turned 96 in September. She lived a long full life and died of old age.
Grandma Lucille was my only Grandma that lived in my hometown, so she figures in many of my childhood memories. When we moved to St. George, it was tiny. One stoplight. The tallest building in town was the temple and it was visible from every spot in the valley. Grandma lived in a condo across the street from the temple and I remember being age 5, our family newly moved to town, and my mother instructing me that if I ever got lost, I just needed to walk to the Temple and I would find Grandma’s house. I found such comfort in those instructions!
Lucille raised 5 kids. One son and 4 daughters. I don’t know what Grandma would say was the most challenging thing in her life, but I always thought it must be raising Mary Lou. My Aunt Mary Lou was diagnosed with a severe case of paranoid schizophrenia when she was an adult. She’d had the shocking, confusing behaviors since she was a very young child, but there was no name for her disease — the mental health field was too new! Can you imagine? Trying to raise a very sick child with no guidance or understanding of her medical condition?
Mary Lou lived with my family when I was growing up so I was very familiar with her sickness. Every once in awhile I would imagine Mary Lou as a child and my heart would ache for both Grandma and Aunt Mary.
I have a million thoughts and stories about Grandma Lucille. How I would walk to her house after Super Steppers on Wednesdays and eat graham crackers (cinnamon topped!) and milk. How she sat with me in the lobby of the temple on the morning of my wedding and held my hands while I cried (a long story for another time). I’m in tears as I type.
Honestly, I’m having to compartmentalize my feelings right now. I’m still feeling overwhelmed from my Ethiopia trip. And I have commitments this week, a schedule I’m not able to change. So I’ll be thinking of Grandma during my quiet moments and look forward to the weekend where I can sit with my emotions for awhile.
Grandma was 96 and I know it was her time to die. But I still miss her.
P.S. — I couldn’t find an image of Lucille, so I chose this image of my mom and baby me instead. I’m thinking of my mom today. It’s hard to lose a parent no matter what your age is.