Sunday, November 20, 2016

Goodbye, Grandma Tenny

My Grandma Tenny- my last living grandparent- passed away Thursday two weeks ago.  I haven't written much about her in my blog because she wasn't a regular presence in my life, or my children's lives. But she gave birth to my dad, and she raised him, and for that I am grateful.

It is hard to write about Tenny.  I try to only say nice things about people in here, and it's hard for me to have many nice things to say.  Tenny showed her love through criticism- or at least that is how I have chosen to understand her criticism of me.  Although I cannot imagine that she didn't love me, it was hard to feel loved by her. My relationship with her, while not complicated, was distant.  She had a hard time showing love or sometimes even being kind.  If you know my dad, you would have a hard time believing that someone so demonstrative and affectionate came from Tenny.

Here are the good things I can say: She was fiercely independent. She was never bound by other people's expectations or rules. In a time where many women married, stayed home, and had children, she got a college degree, married, had children, and worked.  I think she tried to stay home and be a "wife" to my grandpa, but she never felt fulfilled by that. She traveled the world, sometimes for work and sometimes for pleasure. She raised 3 children to be productive members of society, and they went on to marry and have children of their own. She never thought of herself as "old," and up until the end she found ways to get out and keep busy. She liked to shop, and would buy my kids little treats when she could- we have a huge collection of crazy hats that mean I don't have to do any planning or shopping when "crazy hat day" comes at camp.
Charlotte talking to Alexandra. My grandparents' wedding picture is next to them.
Today, on what would have been her 96th birthday, I took Charlotte and Asher to DC for her memorial (originally planned as her birthday party). Asher got a kick out of exploring the cupboards, finding unopened packages of paper plates and napkins, trinkets, and birthday candles.  My cousin Alexandra brought out some of Tenny's costume jewelry, and Charlotte channeled Tenny and beautified. Asher would have loved exploring my grandparents' house the way it was when I was a kid- he loves a good treasure hunt and is always able to find something.
Charlotte channeling her inner Tenny. She later sashayed across the room making the jewelry rattle.
Gray Kitty got in on the action
We reminisced about Tenny- unfortunately it seemed like the most fond memories were held by the people she knew in the final years of her life, who saw her as an eccentric and amusing grandmother-type. For those who knew her longer, relationships weren't nearly so easy.  Unlike when I lost my mom's parents. I haven't experienced sadness or grief.  My only sense of sadness is that we could never be close, that she kept me at such a distance that I can't feel her loss.  She lived a good and full life, always on her terms, and that is what I will focus on now that she has passed.  Happy Birthday, Grandma Tenny.

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