Yesterday I came back from a homeland visit and welcoming me back were the news of my grandmother’s passing.
In these sad moments I had some comfort in the fact that just the day before I managed to visit her at the hospital and say my mental goodbye.
Visiting her was a hard decision for me.
I remember my grandmother as a beautiful, beautiful woman, always taking pride in her impeccable appearance.
She had beautiful blond hair and big blue-gray eyes. I wish I had some photos with me so I could show you how gorgeous she was. Every picture looks like it was taken on the red carpet in a Hollywood-ian premiere.
When I was young she used to take me home from kindergarten and later from school and spend the day with me until my father picked me up in the evening or in the late afternoon.
She would go over the yellowing pictures and tell me the stories behind the 2-D photos and then she would start telling me stories she made up or read in Polish and translated for me.
Her patience was endless and she kept going and going and never grew tired of telling me all these marvelous stories that I enjoyed so much.
I am sure she had contributed to my love of story telling just as much as my parents have.
When I was a teenager she got Alzheimer and little by little she grew smaller and smaller until she became just a shadow of her glorious self.
In my mind’s eye she was beautiful and glamorous and it was difficult for me to watch her being anything else.
At the hospital she was hardly breathing, half comatose.
I looked at her and tears started pushing at my eyelids and a big knot started forming in my throat. I could hardly say a word.
Watching her shriveled in an impersonal hospital bed broke my heart.
Her eyes were partly closed and the light taken out of them. Her big beautiful eyes weren’t glowing anymore.
I said “Hello, grandmother” and for a split second I thought she might have heard me. Her eyebrows raised and then dropped again.
I tried to touch her, gently, but she pulled back, as if my gentle stroke was hurting her.
I wanted to sing to her. I wanted to sing the Polish song she taught me as a child “Zashale Gurale”, but I couldn’t say a word. I just looked at her, silently, and sang it in my heart. Hoping she had somehow heard me.
I am glad I had the chance to see my grandmother, just a couple days before her passing but I don’t want to ever remember seeing her like that.
For me my grandmother, Gutta, would always be that beautiful lady.
Wearing pink lipstick and a fabulous dress or a figure hugging suit, putting to shame the fashionistas on “Mad Men”.
For me she would always have light in her eyes and lots of spirit.
Telling me stories in half (or quarter…) Hebrew and half Yiddish and Polish (languages that I have never understood).
For me she would always be the grandmother who asks me if I want a piece of cake and then making the cake from scratch, just for me.
She would always be the grandmother who brings huge jars of scrumptious handmade cookies that disappear in a matter of hours.
She would always be that grandmother. For me.
I love you, savta. May you rest in peace.