97 1/2 Years Young

I write these tributes about my grandparents when they pass. There is something very surreal about this being my last one.

Grandma was about the most interesting person I have ever met. She was the oldest of 10 children, her mother passing away when she was just 14 yrs. old. (Yes, her mother was pregnant for a decade straight. Bless her). She dropped out of school to raise her siblings through the depression. She married Lee DeJong and had four children (one who died soon after birth). She once again found herself caring for them unsupported as grandpa Lee died too early. Oliver, the only grandpa I knew, was her partner through the later years.

Some of my favorite memories are of me and my brother having sleepovers at grandma’s home in Starbuck. She’d play kickball in the backyard. We also had a secret fishing spot where she almost always out-fished us. We would sleep in the living room and watch episodes of Batman until all hours of the night. There was a bad thunder storm one night and I vividly remember standing at her door until her and grandpa woke up. It’s one of my earliest memories.

A child of the depression, grandma taught us how to garden and can/preserve. A lot of the skills and hobbies my father has came from her and were, in turn, passed down to me. I know how to can beef so it’s delicious on egg noddles. I bet you don’t know how to do that.

Her children were her greatest gift to the world. My mother, brother and I knew we’d always be 2nd place to her favorite person (Tim), but we were mostly okay with that because he was one of our favorite people, too.

She would hustle you in a game of Hand and Foot. Straight hustle, homie. Don’t blink.

I hate that the last 3-4 yrs. of life were as tough for her as they were happy. I’m glad Vivianne and Leroy could bring her a smile during our visits. And I truly hope she has found peace in her passing.

❤️ Grandma, thanks for everything.

P.S. If praying is your thing, say a quick one for Tim and Val. They’ve been caregivers for 14 years to Oliver, Shirley, Roy, and Lorinda (14 yrs ago, almost to the day, is when Oliver had his stoke. It feels like a lifetime). They have done a remarkable job and are entering into a new space where that huge part of their life is complete. As much relief comes from that, I imagine some loneliness and emptiness may sit until the hole is refilled.


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