28 January 2013


there is a kind of leveling up that happens when we work hard, persevere, earn it some how...
and then there is the uncomfortable kind. the kind that happens when a generation passes, dropping away, thrusting us up to the next level whether we like it or not.

We lost our sweet Mimi this weekend. My grandmother. My mother's mother. An amazing woman, strong, buoyant.  She scared me shitless when I was little. And even when I was not so little anymore, I always felt I was disappointing her. Or doing things wrong. Or being wrong. And I hated that. I never felt like she liked me very much.

Jeff died the same month as Poppy, my grandfather, 10 years ago this coming August. And in those first months of nearly insane grief, we bonded in a way we never had before. Jeff also shared a birthday with Poppy.

Suddenly, she became so much less scary-- so much more tender and loving toward me.  Each birthday anniversary we would reach out, specially and specifically.  Each death anniversary.  It was so hard to have this shared grief be the subject of our new relationship, and I felt so torn. So relieved that we were on new footing, so very sad about why.
But no matter how complicated the "why", the past 10 years have been a different kind of gift. A gift of connection, and a totally new way of relating.  I still disappointed her.  Getting pregnant before getting married-- a cardinal sin in her playbook. But I felt we truly had a connection in a way we had not.

And now here we are.
leveling up in spite of what any of us wanted.

I will think of her red painted toes.
Her ability to float like driftwood. Truly, a freakish thing.
I will think of her laugh, and her sly grin.
I will think of the tiny pickles in a silver dish, her swedish meatballs, her mac and cheese.
I will think of the gatherings at her house, smelling of sea salt and cedar.
I will think of jean nate and dove soap.
I will think of the time she dried my hair, hard, with a towel on the deck of a large sail boat off the coast of maine, and how i cried at her sudden tenderness.
I will think of the acrid smell of Ammens powder-- when we were very little, she would have us lie on towels on her bed, and spread powder on our backs after swimming.
I will think of the slippery-soled ill-fitting sneakers she would make us wear to swim off the rocky beach.
I will think of red geraniums, and spectator pumps, and her crooked front tooth.
And I will think of how her hand felt, under mine, the last time I held it.


sprogblogger said...

Oh I am so very sorry. No words make it any better, I know. Just wanted to know I'm thinking of you.

Debbie Brumell said...

So beautifully written, Kate! I can see Mimi in every word. She was so strong but she loved you to bits and don't you ever forget it! Sending loving hugs your way.

Michele said...


Baby Smiling In Back Seat said...

So sorry to hear about the loss of your Mimi, my friend.

Joannah said...

Heartfelt condolences, Kate. Both of my grandmothers passed in the six months prior to Michael's passing. One was practically a saint, the other more complicated and difficult. However, they are both missed, and it is sad to be in a season of life for which they are not here.

B. said...

So sorry to read of your Mimi's passing. I'm glad you and she had such a better relationship for her last years. I wish I'd managed to transform my relationship with my grandmothers before they were gone, but I think they know or knew my true intentions in spite of my teen angst. I'm very aware of my girls' relationship with my mother, their only living grandma.

Much love to you and your family.