Saying Good-bye to Bobo (Part III)

Bobo had a love of high fashion and high heels.  Whether an afternoon lunching or a trip to Tom Thumb, she was always well-dressed, perfectly coiffed, and fully accessorized.  She was the epitome of a storybook grandma -- filling my closet with the in-fashions, filling my tummy with homemade goodies, and filling my heart with grandmotherly love.  She loved to travel and would share stories about dining at Commander's Palace, sitting on the beaches of Aruba, and even her missed opportunity to visit the South Pacific.  

Bobo was my Jewish Pharmacist, doling out ample amounts of healing chicken soup with matzoh balls when I was really sick or just really sick of going to school.  She was my source for the best home cooked holiday meals.  Her kitchen and dining room table would lead you to believe she was feeding 40, when it was usually just Mom, Bobo, and Me.  Sometimes my BFF, Jess, would join us for a ritualistic can of root beer, obligatory taste of gefilte fish, and more toasted coconut marshmallows than we could possibly stuff into our faces.

Bobo appreciated good jokes.  The dirtier the better, often something involving religion, politics, or the male anatomy.  One time, Jess and I were doing a science fair project about how visual cues aid with memory retention.  The main character of our project was named Puffy.  After repeating the name and spelling P-U-F-F-Y to Bobo numerous times... she insisted that Jess and I were mispronouncing the name of our main character and where Bobo comes from, that word is pronounced "PUSSY!"  No other pronunciation was acceptable.  Jess and I acquiesced and finished the rest of our science fair project with Pussy, instead.

 In Bobo's last days, she nodded her approval to the Chaplain's sense of humor:
Why does the bee wear a yarmulke?
                              So you don't confuse him with a wasp.

Saturday nights were Grandma Nights.  We'd start the evening with a big pot of baked beans and Kosher hot dogs.  Bobo would always cut them into bite sized pieces to cook with the beans in the bean pot, because that's the way I had to have them.  Then she'd pop popcorn and serve it in her giant stainless steel mixing bowls.  All of it washed down with ginger ale served in an antique, copper soda shop glass and a flexie straw.  We'd watch 227 and Golden Girls, choking on popcorn kernels in between fits of laughter.  The banter between Rose and Sophia ("Ma") was unforgettable.  Every.  Single.  Saturday.

Bobo was proud, stubborn, and fiery.  As I got older, she seemed to get more angry and unhappy.  But the one thing I know never changed was her love for me.  No matter how old I got or where in the country I lived, I'd always fly home with a frozen container of chicken soup, a bag of lemon poppy seed muffins, and a new outfit.  Making sure I was well-dressed and well-fed was her way of showing how much she cared.

Bobo never stopped.  Never stopped.  Working.  Volunteering.  Moving, going, doing.  It wasn't until the deterioration of her spine finally rendered her nearly immobile.  That immobility weighed heavy on her, stripping her of her sense of freedom and self-sufficiency.  In Bobo's last two months, she opted to sport a diaper to avoid the struggle of going to the bathroom on her own.  Her only humbled response was "I never thought I'd be wearing a diaper at this age."  Spoken like a true 96 year old woman, 36 years old at heart.

She was always making something.  Knitting, ceramics, crafts, or food.  She loved to give things away and always wanted something on hand to gift.  In her last months, she became a very competitive Bible Bingo player, winning all types of prizes to add to her giveaway stash.

In these past three weeks, I've learned so much about my grandmother.  And myself.  She is so much of who I am today... some good, some bad, all traits I will cherish and hold even closer.  We love through food and gifts.  If I insist on cooking for you and do so in great quantity, it means you are loved.  If I insist on giving you gifts or goodies, it means you are loved.  I once thought these were both heinous and shallow ways of showing love... but now I know, realize, and understand that jelly thumbprint cookies and a Liz Claiborne sweater were genuine love... given with a whole heart and loving warmth from deep within.

If there are lessons to take away from this whole process of losing my grandmother, they are as follows:

     1) No burden is worth carrying to the end of my days.  I am to live each day with forgiveness and acceptance.

     2) I will love the people around me, with me, and close to me.  I will show them I care deeply for them the best way I can.
          - I will TELL them I love them and allow them to tell me the same
          - I will listen to them and believe them
          - I will feed them good food
          - I will understand that giving, receiving, and showing love is as unique to the individual as his or her own fingerprint

     3) There is nothing to be gained from living my life in fear.

     4) I will keep going, moving, and fighting until the very end.  Until there is no more go.  No more fight.

     5) 96 is way too young to be old.  I can only hope I live to be 96 years young.

     6) I will never leave anything unsaid.  Forgive and forget.  Or air it out and forgive anyway.

     7) Eat dessert.  Sometimes dessert for dinner is okay.

I could write forever.  So many memories.  So many thoughts.  I'm going to miss her.  I'm proud to be her granddaughter.  I'm honored to be full of her "go", to have a kitchen full of her recipes, and I'm proud to know how to make a potent chicken soup.  My grandmother will always be with me.  Always in my heart.

I love you, Bobo.  I'm going to miss you so very much.

1 comment:

  1. i don't know...i'm pretty sure i could have stuffed some more of those marshmallows into my face.