Thursday, May 23, 2013

An inspiration

The first time I met her was at a Fourth of July party. Hopper and I were engaged on July 2nd, so the news was still fresh and although we had told our parents when we arrived home from Paris the night before, hardly anyone else knew.

The party was at Hopper's dad's apartment, and I was nervous because it was our first outing as an engaged couple. Hopper's brother was there (let's call him Bill), and some of their friends (whom I knew already, having been friends with Bill since college) but Hopper was most excited to introduce me to his 91-year-old grandmother.

For years, Grandma had been harassing Hopper and Bill to get married already because she wasn't planning to live forever. She wanted to see them each happily married before she died.

When we arrived, Grandma was learning the names of Bill's friends, politely nodding to each of them and instructing them to call her Grandma, too. Hopper introduced me, and I was also invited to call her Grandma. Then Hopper clarified, "This is my fiancee."

Grandma lit up like a firecracker. Suddenly, I was her favorite person in the world: the person who was making her dream come true.

Our relationship waxed and waned over the years. Grandma was a feminine lady--always dressed to a T, always wearing makeup and cologne and jewelry--so when I showed up in my trousers with my face naked and telling Hopper what to do, she didn't know what to make of me. Last summer, Bill was changing his baby's diaper when the baby peed all over the place, and Hopper ran over with some paper towels to help clean the floor. Grandma looked confusedly at me and at Bill's wife and said she felt sorry for these poor men having to change a diaper.

But Grandma had a good heart, and she knew that I love Hopper, and I make him happy, and he loves me and Boo. And that's all that mattered to her really.

Grandma died last weekend at the age of 103. 103 and 5/6, actually. We visited her in the hospital (Hopper visited her every day, but we wanted Boo's schedule to stay as close to normal as we could keep it, so I only got to visit twice) and we brought her a chocolate bar and a bottle of cologne that she had requested. She was herself to the end, and "herself" was an amazing woman who inspired everyone she knew.

But I'd always like to remember her face when Hopper told her that I was the woman who would make her dreams come true.

She is missed.

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