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I can't imagine that there will ever be a day that some things don't immediately make me think of my Grandma. The Chicago skyline, chocolate covered orange peels, Marshall Fields, double solitaire, Red Door perfume, Dala horses, Pepperidge Farm gingerman cookies, campy musicals, San Antonio.
My Grandma, Barbara Anderson Hudson, came downstairs every morning ready for the day, wearing a skirt or dress (I never once saw her wear pants) and a pair of heels. She wasn't the kind who was likely to splash around in mud puddles with the grandkids. I don't recall raucous games of tag or late night ice-cream runs, but I know my Grandma never missed an opportunity to gather her entire family together. I know she got deep joy out of watching the bonds between cousins and kids and grankdkids and great-grandkids develop and grow.
There were things about my grandmother that were maddening to me as a child and young adult. Having to dress for dinner (at home!) in skirts and heels only to be relegated to the kids table. To have to go to bed at night when things were just getting fun. To endure formal dining and/or social situations when all I wanted to do was go climb a tree or jump on the beds with my cousins. To feel the pressure of doing the right thing and making the right decisions without knowing the exact parameters of the expected outcome. But as an adult, I came to understand why my Grandma was the way she was and I grew to appreciate the things I learned from her - not only the lessons in social graces and formality (many of which clearly didn't stick!), but other life lessons and bits of fun as well.
My Grandma taught me how to needlepoint and cross-stitch. She taught me how to play double solitaire. She taught me that relationships with family and friends are important and that time together is required to maintain those relationships. She taught me that I should keep up with local and world news (how it vexed her when I said I rarely read the paper or watched Fox news!). She taught me, by example, to put my "money where my mouth is" by supporting the organizations and charities I believe in. She taught me that action is better than sitting around waiting for things to happen. She taught me that traveling is fun. And that a sparkly cocktail dress or a little bit of (tasteful) bling added to an outfit is an instant pick-me-up. She taught me generosity. And that money well-managed allows you to bless your family and others in ways that can change their lives.
My Grandma was a wonderful example of commitment, not only to her family and friends, but to the causes and organizations that she believed to be right and true. She and my grandfather were married for a zillion years (yeah, ok...so I don't know the exact number of years, but I do know it was upwards of 60). She had dear, life-long friends that she knew from high school and college. She never missed sending a birthday or anniversary or graduation card. She was always on time, and never blew off an appointment. She was a faithful church-goer, an active supporter of the Republican party and a life-long dues paying member of several organizations including DAR and her beloved Kappa Kappa Gamma.
My Grandma had almost 94 years on this earth. What an amazing blessing to have had her in my life for nearly 40 years. She outlived her husband and the vast majority of her friends. It makes me smile to think of the party that took place last night - lots of dancing to Big Band music, beautiful clothing, laughter, drinks, talk of politics - producing all of the same noises I would hear into the wee hours of a morning when I visited Chicago during my childhood. I look forward to seeing you again one day at your "grown up" party and the ultimate family reunion! In the meantime, take a spin around the dance floor with Grandpa for me.
Rest in Peace, Grandma. You will be missed.