By the time my husband was twelve years old all four of his grandparents had passed away. When he shared this with me my heart cried out for him. I never merited to meet my grandfathers, but my two grandmothers have been and continue to be two of the most influential women in my life – throughout their lives and after death.
This past June my family and I witnessed a miraculous event; the passing of Judy Anne Gold, my paternal grandmother -- who I called Granny. We usually do not refer to death as miraculous, but I view my Granny’s passing as nothing short of that. Granny was an extraordinary woman, and besides for her white hair, she never really got old. Though Granny celebrated her 85th birthday by the time I was in second grade, I do not have one memory of Granny being restricted by her age. Granny drove her white Oldsmobile and volunteered at her local hospital for 32 years, until the age of 90.
Granny was born on October 29th 1911 and she was due to celebrate her 100th birthday this past October. I was planning on taking my son, her oldest grandchild, to celebrate this milestone with her in Chicago. However, as the summer came closer for the very first time in Granny’s life we noticed that she was changing, and for the first time our family was reminded that Granny was 99 years old. Additionally, my son was turning 2 in August, and we decided that it would make more sense for us to fly while he still flew for free.
We had a wonderful time visiting Granny. She pushed my son around on her brand new walker -- which she didn’t need anyway. She gleamed with pride as she fed my son melon and gave him a doll to love and care for. At the end of the visit I gave my Granny a big hug. I cried as I told her I loved her dearly. Something inside of me knew that I would never see her again. Six days after we visited she left us forever.
Granny merited to see both of her children become grandparents, and she saw both of her great-grandchildren within two weeks of her passing. One of whom was just three months old. I think this great blessing was her final heavenly reward on Earth.
My daughter was born just seven months later. While she never merited to meet her great grandmother, my daughter carries on her name-sake.
We wanted to honor Granny’s wonderful character in choosing a name for our daughter. When thinking about her the idea of family friendship kept coming back to me. After Granny retired from teaching, she spent 32 years delivering flowers in the hospital. She went from room to room all over the hospital arranging and watering the flowers to make sure they stayed nice. I am quite positive that she talked to every patient, doctor, nurse, and visitor who was interested in having a conversation. One of my favorite personal memories of Granny is of her taking me to the botanical gardens when I was a little girl. As we walked through the gate she struck up a conversation with the guard. As we passed I said “Granny, you sure know everyone, how did you know that guard?” Granny smiled and responded in her thick southern accent “Well now I know him don’t I.” In her honor, we named our first girl Reut, which is Hebrew for friendship. Granny has strongly influenced my own inter-personal relationships, and I pray that Reut should emulate her great-grandmother’s love for all people.
In addition to her kind and charming personality, Granny was one of the most strong-willed women I knew. Granny did what she needed to do to get what she needed and what others needed. During World War Two, my Granny was living in America, and she wanted to help with the war efforts. So, Granny, with her perfectly permed hair, and ironed clothing hopped on a “two-ton truck” and transported soldiers from base to base from 1942 until 1945.
While Granny will be forever missed, I can only smile at the thought of her ninety-nine wonderful years, and her peaceful death. The birth of my daughter has provided great comfort for all of those who loved her. Granny’s legacy lives on and her life has been sealed with the purity of a new soul.
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