Thursday May 10: 12:30 PM call from Dad notifying me of my 100 year old grandmother’s apparently serious decline. I drive home to see her and my mother. Gram does not look well. I call all my kids, her great grandchildren, to let them know.
Friday May 11: Justine takes the train from NY to Albany; Dad drives to Albany to pick her up and bring her the rest of the way to New Hartford to see Gram.
Friday evening: Steve (brother), Teresa, and Danny drive up from Westchester county to see Gram. I drive to New Hartford, so Justine and I can head back down to NY to prepare for Justine’s graduation festivities (NYU). I realize after arriving in New Hartford, that one of my tires is too low to drive on.
8:30 PM: Justine and I leave in Dad’s car
11:15 PM: Call from Dad, Gram has just passed.
Karl, in the meantime… just finishing his spring term at Tufts, spent Friday packing his car and getting ready to leave, departs for Syracuse around 7:00 PM, stops in Utica to give his grandmother a hug and offer his love after hearing of the passing of his great grandmother.
Saturday: 1:30 AM Justine and I arrive at Steve’s empty house, for short sleep. Karl arrives home, for an even shorter sleep.
6:00 AM: Karl and his Dad get on a bus for NY.
6:15 AM- Justine and I are up so we can take the 7:something train into NY for a 9:00 yoga class! After class Justine heads back to her apt. I head over to a meeting with a friend. Wander back towards Justine’s apt. after my meeting. Stumble on a café for lunch. Walk across Central Park to get to the other side of town to get the train to Justine’s.
1:00 PM: Paul, Karl, and Dad go to a Mets/Reds baseball game.
4 ish: Choosing a restaurant for dinner to please palate of pure meat eaters, pure vegetarians, and those of us in between. 5:30ish: Phone call from mom and dad; Gram’s burial, calling hours, funeral, and the family meal that will follow will all take place on Monday, beginning at 10:45 in the morning.
7:00 PM: Justine and I, and her room mate Erin, meet up with Paul, Karl, and their dad, my ex for celebration dinner for Justine’s graduation. Dinner at Moroccan restaurant. After dinner, we disperse, and I head back up to my brother’s overnight. 11:30 ish I arrive, and Steve and family have now returned from upstate also.
Sunday: 7:00 AM: up, so that I can pack all my things, dress appropriately for a graduation and an evening Broadway production. I find my way in Dad’s fancy car to drive to Paul’s apt. in Queens. Arrive at Paul’s by 9:20, park the car; Paul and I take the train to Madison Square Garden. Meet up with Karl, and their Dad, a little before 10:00 AM. New York University’s College of Arts and Sciences Graduation from about 10:30 until 1:30. Meet up with Justine after. We all take the train back to her apt. First time her father sees her apt. Then, walk to lunch at a very nice little café near Columbia. Back to Justine’s briefly after our late lunch. She kicks us all out so she can get possibly an hour or so to herself. I head to a café to get some quiet time with myself and my journal over a cup of coffee.
7:00 PM Justine and I meet up with Paul and Karl at the Shubert Theater for Spamalot! Beautiful production. Light, entertaining, funny, good dancing and singing.
All day long on Sunday: Several conversations with Ruth who stayed behind from traveling this weekend so she could study for her Bio AP, scheduled for Monday morning. Now: how to rearrange our lives so that Monday, tomorrow!!! will work. Phone calls to Ruth, school guidance counselor, bio teacher, scheming about how to get Ruth out of that exam time, all of us a little bit of sleep, and Ruth and the rest of us to New Hartford in the morning.
9:30 PM after Spamalot, we head to Paul’s apt in Queens. He packs, we get directions to get out of Queens to head upstate. Leave by 10:30 PM; Justine is first driver. We get ourselves in a wrong lane and end up driving through Manhattan, back on track without much trouble. Paul is second driver, then me, and the last 30 minutes or so, Justine finishes the trip.
Monday: Phew!! Arrive, safely, in Syracuse about 3:00 AM. Sweet Ruth has beds prepared for the unanticipated arrival of all her siblings! 9:15 AM head for New Hartford.
6:30 AM: Steve’s family heads upstate again!
10:45 AM: burial
12:00 noon: calling hours
2:00 PM: funeral
3:00 PM: Lunch with extended family and friends at the Phoenician
5:15 PM: back to mom and dad’s house
6:00 PM: Justine and Paul head back down to NY
9:00 PM: Donna, Karl, and Ruth head back to Syracuse. Karl drives, mom collapses.
10:00 PM: Back home!
The juxtaposition of Justine’s graduation weekend with the death of Gram has not been lost on me, or Justine. Gram was a very strong, very intelligent woman. She herself was a college graduate, from Cornell University in 1930. Though she did not work outside of her home, Gram most definitely did work very hard in her lifetime, taking care of her family and participating actively in her community. She used her many skills wisely, carefully, lovingly, and thoughtfully. And, she was widely recognized by everyone who knew her for these qualities. In her own very distinct way of being, she paved a path for her daughter and grand and great grand daughters to, generation by generation, take steps forward to be independent, strong, active women. Each of us in turn stepping into our own wisdom, not in small part, we receive from the legacy of our great Gram.