Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Celebrations: A Life Remembered

Grandma Olive, 1913-2010

This is a difficult topic for me. My gran passed earlier this year, the day after my birthday. For the first 45 years of my life, all of our celebrations were centered around my mother’s mom. It’s painful to imagine any sort of family gathering without her sparkling blue eyes, bright white hair, and merry smile. To me, the word “celebration” is synonymous with my Grandma Olive.
Detail shot of 2008 Mother's Day necklace for Gran

My gran was a remarkable person. Born in 1913, she survived two world wars, the great depression, two bouts of breast cancer, and bore five children to my Grandpa Ted. Gran was a registered nurse, and worked as a nurse and director of nursing for many years. After Grandpa Ted died in 1965, Gran went to war-torn Nigeria in the late 1960’s, as a Red Cross nurse. She played piano and organ, and was the church organist for decades, as well as the pianist for the local theater troupe. In 1984, she married Grandpa Don, and enjoyed a wonderful life with him until he passed in 2006.
My mom sent me the silver portion of this necklace, hoping I could make it so Gran could wear it. I added the sterling silver cones and clasp, and the luscious silk ribbons in Gran's favorite colors.

Gran was pivotal in steering me towards words and music – as a young girl, I often tagged along with her to church so she could practice the music for the next day’s service. Gran taught me how to play (or rather, lose, at) Scrabble, and amazed me with her ability to do the New York Times crossword puzzle in ink. Gran and I loved to sit together and watch Wheel of Fortune and Name That Tune...of course, she always knew the answers.
In addition to her accomplishments and talents, Gran was a warm and compassionate soul, kind to humans and animals alike. She loved nothing more than to be surrounded by her friends and family – Sunday dinners at Gran’s, complete with aunts, uncles, and cousins were a regular event. If someone in the family had a birthday, or an anniversary, or a graduation, or maybe it was a holiday, ANY holiday, a potluck barbeque at Gran’s was the customary celebration. Christmas Eve parties at Gran’s and Grandpa Don’s home were an annual favorite – Grandpa Don mixed wicked strong hot buttered rums, while Gran supervised the decorations, food, and music.
At every event, Gran delighted in wearing lovely bright clothes, always accessorized by just the right jewelry. Leading off this post is a picture of a necklace I created for her a few years ago, featuring a bunch of my lampwork beads in Gran’s favorite oceany blue and green colors. Also pictured in this post are three pieces my mom sent to me to re-work for Gran, so that she might continue to enjoy them. The faux pearls and blue stone necklaces just needed to be restrung, while the silver bib required a little more planning and forethought.

Gran, I love you so much and miss you every day. Thank you for all you taught me, and for being my grandma. You will always be in my heart, and you will always inspire me. Be well.
Another view of Gran's Mother's Day necklace.