I only have one surviving grandparent - my indefatigable grandmother, Mabel Margaret Moldenhauer Evans. She has always been the true embodiment of the puritan, Midwestern work ethic.
She was born on a farm in Michigan to a German-born father and mother. She had 7 brothers and sisters, and married my grandfather when she was straight out of high school. My grandfather, a savvy orphan workhorse, taught her how to drive. Not only that, but he truly adored her. After he died in 1994, we found a love note in his office, written just a few months prior to his death.
She's the kind of woman who works all the time. Can make a pie crust without a recipe. And always had a beautiful garden. She worries about her weight - to this day.
Back a few years ago, I went to visit her in Florida and she took me aside to ask my opinion on her new hairstyle. She told me that she thought it was too short and she couldn't believe that she had stopped coloring it - something my grandfather liked her to do. He had already been dead almost 10 years, she was well over 80, and she was still worrying and hoping for his approval.
She doesn't hear well, so we can't talk on the phone. My voice is too soft and too high for her to hear well. So we write each other. She sends me lovely, stream-of-consciousness notes that talk about her life, her worries, and her concern for me. I cherish each one.
My aunt sent me a note today saying that even now... even with congestive heart failure, a dying friend, a bad hip, and serious dementia, that she went to her swim class an hour and a half early because she didn't have anything to do. That's my Grandma Evans.
I want to see her before she goes. I hope I get the chance. I hope I get to have a moment of clarity with a woman I've loved dearly my whole life. I was her kitchen-shadow. She always believed in me, always accepted me, always helped me, always included me, and always loved me.
I am enormously grateful to her for all of it. I hope her transition is peaceful. She deserves nothing less after working so hard for so long.